It's hard to figure the motivation for the Packers, especially since Gado was one of the bright spots in a dismal season a year ago. It's not going to help public relations in a place that could use all that it can get right now. But, apparently Gado wasn't picking up Mike McCarthy's zone-blocking scheme quickly enough, and so he was shipped south. Gado's head coach last season, Mike Sherman, is now the offensive line coach in Houston but, oddly enough, Houston runs a zone-blocking scheme, as well.
Here's what I think: Houston didn't acquire Gado to block. Last season, I was bearish on Gado early on until I really stopped and watch him run. I saw a power-house back with really good instincts and agility. And, Houston general manager Rick Smith saw the same, stating, "I think he's (Gado) already proven that he can be an every-down back. He's a kid that is a power type of back with good speed and balance and agility. So to put him in this offense will be an asset for us."
While Morency will fade into the background in Green Bay for the time being, I'd watch out for Gado. He could very well see regular carries working in tandem with rookie Wali Lundy, and he's probably the goal-line back, as well. He's worth a flyer in 12-team leagues and deeper.
Switching gears, I'll admit I get crazy-busy this time of year and I don't answer nearly enough e-mails – and an ever-persistent cloud of guilt hangs over my head pretty much 24/7. For that reason, I figured I'd devote this Fun-house to a rapid-fire mailbag session. I'm not expecting total redemption, but it's a step in the rectification process:
I don't have a premium back or a good No. 2. Can you tell me a sleeper that I could bank on to help me score? – Dale, New York, NY
Funston: Samkon Gado, now that he's been traded to Houston. I really believe he'll have an impact in the running game. I'd also recommend looking to see if Correll Buckhalter is available. Healthy for the first time in a long, long time, Buckhalter rushed for 50 yards on eight carries in Week 1. He's probably going to figure into the goal-line mix in Philly, and he'd be in line for a role upgrade if/when Brian Westbrook gets bit by the injury bug.
If your league isn't very deep, perhaps Brandon Jacobs is also available. If so, grab him. He was awesome in Week 1, flattening Indianapolis defenders in the second half after Tiki Barber had worn them down. I'm guessing that's going to be standard operating procedure for New York this season – Let Tiki work the opposing defense over, and then let Jacobs squash its will in the second half with his crushing style. I said it earlier this week, and I'll say it again: I'm not sure Tiki sees a goal-line carry this year. Jacobs is a monster that could very well score 10-plus TDs in short-yardage situations.
Funston: Haobo, Donte' looked real good on Sunday, but you'd be buying at his 52-week high right now. Besides, Plaxico acquitted himself nicely in Week 1 with 80 yards and a touchdown – he also made a couple highlight-worthy, in-the-crowd, fingertip grabs. While Stallworth looks like he'll fit like a glove in Philly, hang on to Burress. Yes, he'll take vacations during the season, but head coach Tom Coughlin doesn't put up with prima donna behavior, and Burress had, arguably, his best season in his first year with New York last season – he was also the second-most targeted receiver after Anquan Boldin. I think he's in the riper position for fantasy numbers. Besides, if you want Donte', you could probably press for a little deal sweetener before you give up Burress.
I've been offered Larry Johnson and Andre Johnson for Steven Jackson and Anquan Boldin. I have LaDainian Tomlinson and Thomas Jones, and I like the idea of getting Larry Johnson. My concern is if I trade Boldin, I'll be left with Laveranues Coles, Hines Ward and Andre Johnson as WRs. Should I pull the trigger on the trade? Thanks. – Tom
Funston: If you have Larry Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson as your starting running backs, do you really think it matters that much who you have at receiver? Pull the trigger – besides, your receivers will still actually be pretty solid.
I have a major QB quandary and could use your help. I started Trent Green last week and had Jake Plummer on my bench. You can already see the problem. I dropped Plummer for Byron Leftwich but am not happy with that matchup this week. I could pick up Batch or Pennington but that is about it. – Dan, California
Funston: I think you were a little hyper-reactionary to the poor Plummer outing. Even with the stinker he dropped in St. Louis in Week 1, I'd have preferred him this week against Kansas City over Leftwich against Pittsburgh. For the remainder of the season, I like Plummer and Pennington a little better than Leftwich, and I even prefer Pennington (vs. NE) slightly ahead of Leftwich for this week.
I have a question on who to start. I have Frank Gore, Ronnie Brown, Ahman Green, LaMont Jordan and Wali Lundy. I obviously narrowed it down to Green, Gore and Brown … which two have the most upside? – James, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Funston: Given how New England man-handled Buffalo on the ground in Week 1, I'd stick with the fully-featured Ronnie Brown this week – he's a very strong 100-yard, TD candidate this week. In the second spot, Gore is the right call. The guy is proving to be a complete back, he went off in Week 1, and he faces a St. Louis defense that allowed the second-most rushing yards in the opening weekend.
Funston: I fear for Mason given that Baltimore may be able to play it conservative and just run over Oakland with the ground attack. Washington's passing game struggled in Week 1, and I expect it will look to make that an emphasis this week against a Dallas squad that struggled some to defend the pass against Jacksonville in Week 1. And if you like playing the history card, it was Moss who put up monster numbers at Dallas (two late long-bomb TD receptions) in a dramatic 14-13 victory on national TV in Week 2 of last season.
Funston: I hate to leave you hanging, Jason, but this is a kiss-your-sister proposition. I think Burleson's value takes a hit with Seattle's addition of Deion Branch, but I think Branch and Darrell Jackson will open him up for some deep-ball opportunities, making Burleson an unpredictable hit-miss type. Jenkins should see more reps in Atlanta, but the Michael Vick aerial rollercoaster lands Jenkins in the hit-miss category as well. If pressed, I'd take Jenkins for the simple fact that he should see more balls thrown his way – Jenkins saw five passes thrown his way in Week 1 compared to just one look for Burleson, and Deion Branch hasn't even started to infringe yet.
Is Chris Cooley still a factor on the Washington offense after a stellar season last year? This guy frustrates me all around, now that I think about it, because all last year, Cooley was stealing touchdowns from my No 1 receiver, Santana Moss. Now I get him, and he gives me negative yards? – Scared Off, Los Angeles, CA
Funston: I thought it was curious listening to the MNF crew talk about how Cooley hadn't been thrown to (at that point in the game), and that this was a totally different offense than last year. None of them mentioned that the guy running this offense this year is Al Saunders, the same guy that Tony Gonzalez averaged 77 catches with from '01-'05. I'd give Cooley the benefit of the doubt for now. I expect Saunders to utilize Cooley as prominently as he's been used in the past.
Funston: I think you pen Parker into your starting lineup every week until further notice – heavy workload, game-breaking ability, ripe rushing offense.
I'm Foster-shy given the way Carolina has looked running the ball in preseason and in Week 1. And the team lost offensive lineman Travelle Wharton for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, so the problems have seemingly been compounded. In what looks like it'll be a 50/50 platoon in New England, I'd give Dillon the slight nod this week over Maroney. Dillon should get the goal-line carries, and I think he comes out a bit on a mission this week given all the Maroney buzz.
Funston: I'm voting Gore here. Do you realize McGahee has 1 TD in his past 11 games played? That said, he should be motivated this week going home to Miami. I would expect him to have another performance like Week 1, with say 70-90 rushing yards and, well … you can't count on a TD given his nearly season-long scoring drought.
I own both Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers in my league. Chad Pennington is available as a free agent in my (keeper )league . So should I jettison Brees in favor of Pennington, or will Brees start putting up Brees-like numbers soon? I appreciate your input, as I respect your track record. – Terry, Chesapeake, VA
Funston: I'd be more inclined to jettison first-year starter Rivers. My guess is that the Chargers continue to go heavy with LaDainian Tomlinson until an opponent makes them change things up. Rivers had just 11 pass attempts in Week 1. I see Brees' curve trending upward more quickly than Rivers'. You've got to love the dimension in the passing game that Bush affords Brees. Bush caught eight balls in his debut, this from a quarterback who thrived using Tomlinson in the passing-game in recent years. Once Brees gets a couple games under his belt, I think you'll see him make some noise in fantasy leagues – actually, Brees is a nice sleeper this week at Green Bay.
What's wrong with Kevin Jones? It seems he can just never find openings anymore. He runs hard but never does anything. I picked him expecting a big season from him but, obviously, if he doesn't get his act together, he'll be dealt. I can't understand how a guy can have an amazing rookie season but last year, and what looks like this year (I know it's early), struggled just getting 4-5 yards. It seems like this is his pattern, 3-yard gain, 3-yard gain, 3-yard loss, 2-yard gain, 5-yard gain, and 2-yard loss. That obviously isn't productive, he just can't break big plays anymore. It worries me not only as a fantasy owner, but as a Lions fan. – Jimmy, Riverview, MI
Funston: I share your concern. Could he not have been given more than 14 carries, compared to 37 passing attempts, in a 9-6 slugfest loss in Week 1? That may very well be an indictment of how he fits in Mike Martz's offense. I know Seattle has a tough run defense, but when a team throws more than twice as much as they run in a game where a TD was not scored, that's just a little baffling. If I owned Jones, and thankfully I don't, I might be looking to deal him for someone else. Who, you might ask? Heck, New England will run a ton this year. I'd take Maroney's 15 carries or Corey Dillon's 15 carries over Jones' 15 carries at this point. Perhaps I'm being a little hyper-reactionary this time, But KJ is one guy that is dropping heavily in my court of opinion.
Funston: Julius Jones for Deuce McAllister? Just about a push. Gimpy-knee'd Darrell Jackson for Torry Holt? Holt by TKO. It would be silly to make this deal.
Is there any chance Yahoo! makes Reggie Bush eligible at wide receiver? I know it's doubtful, but simply as a personal dream, I'd like to think it would be considered. – AJ, Naperville, IL
Funston: Surprisingly, I had a bunch of e-mails about this. I wouldn't count on Bush being WR-eligible, but your argument isn't without merit, AJ. Bush is definitely being employed in a hybrid fashion. Yahoo! currently affords WR/RB-eligibility to rookie Michael Robinson, so the case could certainly be made for Bush. Ultimately, the decision usually lands with our stat provider, STATS, Inc. – although they've had an open mind in the past when we've gone to them with position-eligibility change requests. For now, I think the consensus is that Bush shouldn't get WR-eligibility – Bush becomes way too valuable in this scenario to make a rash decision. But if he is continually being split wide, the case will certainly start to mount in his favor.
I drafted Kurt Warner as my starting QB. I have Philip Rivers as my backup. With Warner playing Seattle this week, and Rivers playing the Titans, who is the better play? I'm tempted to play Rivers since Pennington ate up the Titans and Seattle has a tough D. – Steve
Funston: I toyed with giving Warner a "Sit" designation this week, but I just couldn't pull that trigger, nor, I suppose, could I really advocate a first-year QB who threw 11 times in Week 1 ahead of Warner, either. Warner just has too many weapons, and Edgerrin James helps as not only a runner, but he's good in pass protection, too. That should help against a Seattle defense that knocked Warner cold last year.
John Madden stinks … He says, "when you talk about" nearly 40 times a game. … I know I'm in the vast minority, but I stopped watching MNF because of him, now he seems to be everywhere. Thankfully my TV has a mute button. I'd rather just watch a soundless football game than hear his tired, worn out phrases and self promotion. – Jeff, Philadelphia, PA
Funston: Nothing to say here. Jeff really just needed to vent.
Stop with the "SANS" this and "SANS" that. You were officially overusing it about a million "sans" ago. Give me Funston sans sans. – Josh, Roanoke, VA
Funston: Dang, I really love that word – so much tidier than "without." At the risk of it becoming my "when you talk about" equivalent, I'll try to reel it in. Josh, if you come after "via" next, my hands are really going to be tied …
- Samkon Gado