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Shuffle Up: The Russell Wilson problem

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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Terrific player, but how much volume? (USAT)

What you are about to witness is real. The participants are not actors . . .

Okay, that's the wrong preamble. Let's try this again.

Today's goal is to determine what fantasy commodities are worth if assembling a new team. The first four weeks were an audition, nothing past that. I've switched back to (unscientific) dollar values because they illustrate the tiers better. Players at the same cost are even.

Do not take the prices too seriously in a vacuum; they're just comparison tools. And I don't compare players outside of position when I do these; an $18 quarterback might not be worth an $18 running back. I just want the players to make sense when comparing apples to apples.

Here are your quarterbacks and wideouts. In the even-numbered weeks, I'll price the running backs and tight ends.

$31 Peyton Manning
$29 Aaron Rodgers
$29 Drew Brees
$27 Matt Ryan
$25 Matthew Stafford
$23 Cam Newton
$22 Philip Rivers
$22 Tom Brady

The Broncos are definitely taking their foot off the gas late in games. Manning's pass attempts by quarter: 44-46-52-14. He ranks 33rd in the league in fourth-quarter passing attempts. Brady's super-aggressive 2007 season broke down this way: 152-167-122-132 . . . It's thy joy of volume for Stafford; he averages 41.20 pass attempts over his 49 professional starts. The Lions obviously have strong running backs now, but they're active as pass catchers (only four teams have more backfield receptions).

$21 Tony Romo
$19 Andrew Luck
$18 Colin Kaepernick
$17 Michael Vick
$16 Robert Griffin
$15 Russell Wilson
$15 Eli Manning

I'm as big a Wilson proponent as you'll find; I predicted he'd win the 2012 Rookie of the Year (he didn't, but that's not the point) and took him in as many leagues as I could last season. He's a talented kid, a hard-working kid, a likable kid. And he's going to be a good fantasy player this year, that's not a point of contention.

But we have to appreciate the tricky setup Wilson is tied to for our stat-grabbing pursuit. The Seahawks have an elite defense, perhaps the best in the NFL, and one of the most dominant running games (powered by one star back and two very good understudies). There are going to be some games where Wilson isn't asked to do a lot. Look at his pass attempts per game this year: 33-19-21-23. The 131 rushing yards help out, but he's yet to score on the ground. He's only given us one game with multiple touchdowns. I don't blame you if you want someone with a better setup (weak defense, so-so running game, etc).

It's go-time for the struggling Eli Manning, as the schedule finally lightens up: Philly, at Chicago, Minnesota, at Philly, bye, Oakland. If something's going to happen, we'll see it now . . . Michael Vick in red zone: 3-for-15, 31 yards, 61.8 rating. Same as it ever was. On the plus side, here are some efficient red-zone throwers: Peyton Manning 19-for-22, Philip Rivers 18-for-25, Ryan Tannehill 8-for-9.

$14 Sam Bradford
$14 Alex Smith
$14 Jay Cutler
$13 Ryan Tannehill
$12 Carson Palmer
$12 Andy Dalton
$12 Matt Schaub
$12 Joe Flacco
$12 Terrelle Pryor

The Texans have just one wideout touchdown, and they only had eight in each of the previous two season. I'm shocked it took this long for natives to get restless about Schaub. Some throws he can't make, and some throws he can't see proactively. It's not your fault, Andre. It's not your fault . . . Dalton is very much a Purgatory Quarterback like Schaub is; good enough to lead Cincinnati to the playoffs now and again, but unlikely to drive a team to a championship. Sometimes you're better to bottom out completely and get a shot at a superstar.

$12 Ben Roethlisberger
$10 Brian Hoyer
$8 Geno Smith
$7 EJ Manuel
$5 Ryan Fitzpatrick
$5 Nick Foles
$4 Mike Glennon
$4 Jake Locker
$3 Matt Cassel
$2 Chad Henne
$0 Blaine Gabbert
$0 Brandon Weeden
$0 Christian Ponder
$0 Josh Freeman

And here are your wideouts.

$35 Calvin Johnson
$34 Dez Bryant
$33 Julio Jones
$32 Demaryius Thomas
$31 A.J. Green
$30 Brandon Marshall
$29 Randall Cobb
$28 Victor Cruz
$28 Jordy Nelson
$26 DeSean Jackson
$26 Larry Fitzgerald
$26 Wes Welker
$24 Andre Johnson
$23 Pierre Garcon
$22 Torrey Smith
$21 Eric Decker
$20 Vincent Jackson
$20 Antonio Brown
$19 Marques Colston
$18 Roddy White
$18 Josh Gordon
$18 James Jones
$17 Reggie Wayne
$17 Anquan Boldin

Colston only has the one touchdown but his game has been smooth and consistent: 21 catches on 29 targets, at least 63 yards in every game. He might be an eyelash underrated in some pools right now . . . I'll concede that Roddy White looked better in Week 4, but he certainly didn't look 100 percent to me (and the stat line wasn't much: 3-28 on nine targets). All things considered, it's encouraging to see the Falcons off after Week 5 . . . It would be nice to see Fitzgerald catch a break. One week it's his hamstring, several weeks Carson Palmer plays like dirt, and we know Arizona's pass blocking is a mess . . . I love seeing Welker getting goal-line scores because it shows how lateral agility and decisiveness can be used in that area. Too many coaches stuck in dark age with goal-line offense: limited playbooks, the awful jumbo package. Give me quickness over power.

$16 Hakeem Nicks
$15 Dwayne Bowe
$14 Cecil Shorts
$13 Steve Smith
$13 Justin Blackmon
$12 Steve Johnson
$12 Mike Wallace
$11 Brian Hartline
$11 Kenbrell Thompkins
$11 Michael Floyd
$11 T.Y. Hilton
$10 Nate Washington
$10 Mike Williams
$10 Julian Edelman

It's a shame we're never going to see Nate Washington on one of the pinball offenses. He's still getting downfield and making big plays (17.5 YPC, 16.2 last year), and he's never been tied to above-average quarterback play in Tennessee. Nonetheless, he's a useful depth piece in 2013, with Jake Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick . . . Floyd has yet to score a touchdown but the rest of his stat line looks encouraging: 16 grabs on 29 targets, 240 yards, 15.0 YPC. I wish the schedule would play along here: after Week 5 against Arizona, the Cardinals get San Francisco (maybe not as bad a matchup as we thought) and Seattle. I could easily see Floyd becoming one of the breakout players of the second half . . . Bowe isn't a great fit for what Andy Reid and Alex Smith want to do, but at least a couple of touchdowns have cushioned the fall. And while I love the Chiefs defense and see this as a definite playoff team, eventually the Chiefs will have to play catch-up against somebody (and not just in the Denver games). Sure, we downgrade Bowe from his August price, that's clear. But I'm not burying him yet . . . I'm a major fan of Shorts, the Garbage Time King, though there are holes in the setup. Obviously the Jags don't have a quarterback, Blackmon's return takes away from opportunity, and Shorts hasn't found the end zone yet. He still should be a reliable flex option in most leagues, despite the leakage. He found a way to overcome it last season.

$9 DeAndre Hopkins
$9 Danny Amendola
$9 Greg Jennings
$9 Alshon Jeffery
$8 Sidney Rice
$7 Tavon Austin
$7 Rueben Randle
$7 Denarius Moore
$6 Chris Givens
$6 Miles Austin
$6 Eddie Royal
$5 Marlon Brown
$5 *Percy Harvin
$5 Robert Woods
$4 Emmanuel Sanders
$4 Golden Tate
$4 Lance Moore
$3 Jeremy Kerley
$3 Vincent Brown
$3 Stephen Hill
$3 Jerome Simpson
$3 Brandon LaFell
$3 Mohamed Sanu

Kerley is an interesting sleeper to me, in that "where did everyone else go?" sort of way . . . Vincent Brown has been a non-story in San Diego (even when he catches the ball, they're not going anywhere), but given the major injury he's coming back from, I'll give him a little more leash in deeper pools. I trust Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt (and Philip Rivers), which means I'm curious about any Chargers skill player getting an opportunity.

$2 Kendall Wright
$2 Ryan Broyles
$2 Rod Streater
$2 Darrius Heyward-Bey
$2 Doug Baldwin
$2 Austin Pettis
$2 Leonard Hankerson
$2 Cordarrelle Patterson
$2 Kenny Stills
$2 Keenan Allen
$2 Kenny Britt
$2 Aaron Dobson
$2 * Santonio Holmes
$1 Andre Roberts
$1 Santana Moss
$1 Donnie Avery
$1 Davone Bess
$1 Riley Cooper
$1 Kris Durham
$1 Harry Douglas
$1 Dexter McCluster
$0 Brandon Stokley
$0 Brandon Gibson
$0 Ted Ginn Jr.
$0 Terrance Williams
$0 Ace Sanders

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