December 09, 2009
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Robert, Robert could
And owners, they are his queens.
Though nothing will drive him away
He could beat them, just for one day
He could again be a hero, just for one day...
David Bowie is right. This time each year, players considered previously mediocre become knights in shining armor. Nick Goings(notes), Ron Dayne(notes) and Billy Volek(notes) are just a few unforgettable names that emerged from the depths of the waiver wire, transforming overnight into virtual football legends.
Last year, Pierre Thomas(notes) and Antonio Bryant(notes) carried owners to the pinnacle of Mount Smack. This season, several viable candidates have stepped to the forefront to potentially join the pantheon of playoff Supermen. Fanatics, desperate to get their trophy kiss, are more than willing to satisfy whatever "favors" they request.
Though he doesn't possess superhuman powers such as accelerated healing, teleportation or pheromone manipulation (that is debatable), the flourishing third-year wideout does have ownership of one comic book quality: touchdown magnetism.
Meachem is fantasy's version of Magneto, minus several years.
Over the past five weeks, the former '07 first rounder has not only shed his alleged "bust" label, he's placed it in an impenetrable force field with a paper-hungry goat. During that stretch, only three receivers, Randy Moss(notes), Larry Fitzgerald(notes) and another newcomer Sidney Rice(notes), have outpaced him in points per game. He's scored in five straight averaging 4.2 receptions and 69.2 yards per game over the streak, including last week's wild, momentum-swinging hustle score in Washington.
But despite Meachem's remarkable run, many owners refuse to trust him. Veteran stiffs such as Carolina's Steve Smith (74 percent-started), T.J. Houshmandzadeh(notes) (60 percent) and more recently Vincent Jackson(notes) (93 percent) are still considered more trustworthy among the blind masses (Meachem 47 percent). Owners and pundits who continue to cling to the past, opting to play or recommend proven players over upstarts, will likely be the same people wanting to become a hood ornament come Tuesday morning. Exercising caution during fantasy's second season is often a fast path to elimination.
Drew Brees(notes) and Sean Payton have raved about Meachem's rapid maturation, noting he's improved by leaps and bounds every week. Truly in his second year – he missed his entire rookie season recovering from knee surgery – the long bomber has flashed incredible playmaking skills, developing into one of the NFC's preeminent deep threats. Due to the socialist nature of New Orleans' high-powered offense (Brees is Karl Marx sans beard), he's often drawn single coverage, an easily exploitable setup considering his skill set. Because of his plus size, terrific speed, open-field shiftiness and more polished routes, he has become the apple of Brees' downfield eye. It could be argued he's really the 1B option next to Marques Colston(notes). Since Week 9, the youngster has just one less target than the Saints' supposed top option.
Over the next two weeks, Meachem will splash multiple sixes in owner cocktails. Why?
1) Schedule. This week he faces an Atlanta defense which has been assaulted vertically for much of the season. The Falcons have allowed a league-high 49 pass plays of 20-plus yards. Magneto only netted two catches for 47 yards against his NFC South nemesis in Week 8, but in the rematch he will be uncontainable, especially if starting corner Chris Houston(notes) is hamstrung. With so much attention focused on the Saints' myriad weapons, specifically Colston, he again will be locked into single coverage. When that opportunity arises, Brees will take advantage. Due to the expected fireworks display in the Superdome, only a handful of receivers should be trusted more than Meachem – Andre Johnson(notes) (vs. Sea), Moss (vs. Car), Fitzgerald (at SF), Roddy White(notes) (vs. NO), Brandon Marshall(notes) (at Ind) and Rice (vs. Cin).
Dallas Week 15 is a more difficult assignment – the ‘Boys have surrendered just one 90-yard receiver since Week 5 – but Terrance Newman and Michael Jenkins(notes) cannot be omnipresent. If Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks(notes) and Mario Manningham(notes) can beat them, so can Colston, Henderson and Meachem.
Meanwhile in Week 16, New Orleans hosts a flammable Tampa defense, which has been burned repeatedly. Over the past five weeks, the Bucs have surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to receivers. Meachem caught just two passes for 10 yards in their first meeting, but both were for touchdowns. With corner Aquib Talib battling hamstring soreness and Ronde Barber(notes) Father Time, he could net another top 10 performance.
2) Sean Payton. Arrogance, not ignorance, is pure bliss for the Saints' play-caller. His Belichickian proclamation New Orleans will strive for an undefeated season suggests foot won't be removed from pedal. This chase for perfection benefits everyone on offense, particularly Meachem who won't be forced to chase down wounded ducks tossed by mummified Mark Brunell(notes).
Ultimately, owners who've come this far are likely overloaded with quality options. But instead of insisting on sticking with the brand name, it's of utmost importance to weigh recent trends and matchups heavily. Keeping a potential hero like Meachem on the bench will make you the villain.
Week 14 Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 84 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14 fantasy points
How big of a difference maker will Meachem be over the next three weeks? Who is your favorite fantasy playoff hero of all time? Who has the bigger ego: Belichick or Payton? What Bowie classic rocks your iPod? Discuss.
Image courtesy of US Presswire