Change is one constant in fantasy sports. Players get hot and cool down, get hurt and get well, and move in and out of roles. Fantasy owners are constantly reacting to these changes (or at least they should be). Let's take a look at the Buzz Index from the past three days and see which players are currently causing the most change in fantasy baseball and fantasy football, and take a deeper look at what the fuss is all about.
Buzz Index (Football) – Adds
Wali Lundy (Hou – RB) 27,280 adds
Ron Dayne (Hou – RB) 26,782 adds
Vernand Morency (Hou – RB) 14,688 adds
It's fairly rare that three members of the same backfield are among the most added players in fantasy football. Dayne signed with the Texans on Sunday, joining an offense which his agent called "Denver South," with former Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak now the head coach in Houston. Dayne is expected to "step right into [the] offense" because he is familiar with Kubiak and his system, and since "he's got more size than [Lundy and Morency]," he could end up with carries in goal-line situations. Dayne is still battling the effects of turf toe, however, so in week 1 Lundy and Morency will be featured, with Lundy seeing the majority of the carries.
Doug Gabriel (NE – WR) 25,518 adds
The Patriots acquired Gabriel from the Raiders for a draft pick last Saturday in an attempt to add depth to their depleted corps of receivers. Reche Caldwell and Troy Brown are currently listed at the starting wideouts, so Gabriel immediately becomes the most talented wide receiver on their roster that isn't choosing to not suit up. Gabriel is still recovering from a hamstring injury and is familiarizing himself with the team's offense, so his Week 1 contributions do not figure to be substantial. Fantasy owners are counting on his benefiting from playing with Tom Brady and becoming a viable fantasy player sooner than later, however.
Stephen Davis (StL – RB) 25,201 adds
Handcuff alert! The Rams signed Davis last week, and he is expected to be Steven Jackson's primary backup this season. Rams coach Scott Linehan said that the 32-year-old Davis, who has missed 17 games over the past two seasons, passed his physical "with flying colors" and looked agile and healthy running and making cuts. Davis is expected to see some limited action in Week 1, although he still needs to work on his conditioning, according to the Associated Press.
Ladell Betts (Was – RB) 20,444 adds
Clinton Portis appears "unlikely" to play in the Redskins' opener against the Vikings on Monday night, telling reporters on Thursday that his dislocated left shoulder is currently at 75 percent and he would need "a couple hard practices" to get back into football shape. Betts, and not T.J. Duckett, is expected to start if Portis does not play, and this news sent a number of fantasy owners to the wire for a quick player add. A definitive decision on Portis' status is not expected until game-time on Monday night.
Greg Jennings (GB – WR) 19,648 adds
"I've clearly never seen a rookie be that productive that fast." Those glowing words were uttered by Packers coach Mike McCarthy after naming Jennings as a starter alongside Donald Driver for Week 1. Jennings led the NFL with 328 receiving yards during the preseason and vaulted incumbent Robert Ferguson (54 yards during the preseason) on the depth chart. Brett Favre called Jennings a "natural" and clearly feels comfortable throwing him the ball. While rookie wide receivers are typically anything but a sure thing, fantasy owners have been willing to take a chance to Jennings.
Wes Welker (Mia – WR) 18,919 adds
Welker makes an appearance on the Buzz Index leaderboard thanks to a solid overall performance on Thursday night against the Steelers – he caught four passes for a team-high 67 yards, returned three kickoffs for 74 yards, and returned three punts for 79 yards. While Welker is currently listed as fourth on the depth chart behind Chris Chambers, Marty Booker, and Derek Hagan, some fantasy owners are hoping that more solid games are in Welker's immediate future.
Buzz Index (Football) – Drops
Domanick Davis (Hou – RB) 99,574 drops
Davis was officially placed on injured reserve by the Texans on Saturday, ending his 2006 season. Considering the volume of drops that followed, perhaps it's not such a stretch that three members of Houston's backfield made the Buzz Index leaderboard for player adds. Davis was, on average, the 16th running back drafted in Yahoo! leagues this season.
Deion Branch (NE – WR) 40,725 drops
Branch's squabble with the Patriots is in the stages where grievances, arbitrators, mediators, and depositions are the most-used words when describing the situation. In other words, it ain't pretty. Regardless of how the matter is settled, Branch's potential fantasy impact for the 2006 season seems to dip slightly lower with each passing day. One of his attorneys told the Boston Globe that Branch has no intention of returning to the team until the dispute is settled, a feeling that you have to assume is mutual at this point.
Mike Vanderjagt (Dal – K) 22,305 drops
Vanderjagt can't seem to escape drama, even with a new team. He missed field goals of 33 and 32 yards in overtime of the Cowboys final preseason game, and has been booting short kickoffs, a task he hasn't handled on a regular basis since 2003. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said on Thursday that he would dress only one kicker for the season-opener on Sunday, and fantasy owners aren't waiting around to see if it's Vanderjagt or Shaun Suisham that gets the call. After all, he's just a dumb kicker, right?
Jerramy Stevens (Sea – TE) 21,997 drops
Fantasy owners who are making last-minute adjustments to their rosters are finding Stevens expendable with the news that he will miss at least three more weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee three weeks ago. Itula Mili is expected to start for the Seahawks in his place.
Chris Perry (Cin – RB) 15,899 drops
The Bengals placed Perry on the physically-unable-to-perform list on Saturday, making him ineligible to return until at least October 17, which comes after Week 6. Perry has been slow to recover from off-season knee and ankle surgeries. Kenny Watson figures to be Rudi Johnson's main backup while Perry is sidelined.
Buzz Index (Baseball) – Adds
Anibal Sanchez (Fla – SP) 34,719 adds
Sanchez pitched the majors' first no-hitter since May 18, 2004, on Wednesday as the Marlins blanked the Diamondbacks 2-0, leaving a steady stream of adds in its wake. Sanchez walked four and struck out six in the game, bringing his season stats to a 7-2 record with a 2.89 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 87.1 innings and 53 strikeouts. Over his past seven starts, he is 3-1 with a 1.53 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 47.0 innings and 33 strikeouts.
Mike Stanton (SF – RP) 22,769 adds
Stanton has been closing for the Giants while Armando Benitez has battled a flare-up of the chronic arthritis in his knees, recording saves in each of the Giants' past four wins. Benitez isn't expected to be out for a significant period of time, but there is no specific timetable for his return. It goes without saying that fantasy owners will take saves wherever they can get them.
Rich Aurilia (Cin – 1B, 2B, 3B, SS) 20,241 adds
Aurilia's been hitting well since roughly July 1, but a .440 September average (11 for 25) has led to more and more adds for the home stretch. Aurilia's been hitting very well so far this month, but he's been putting up phenomenal numbers since the All-Star break. In 44 games since the break, he's hit .342 (54 for 158) with 10 home runs, 23 runs scored, and 24 runs batted in – not bad for a guy that you can plug into any of the four infield positions.
Chuck James (Atl – SP, RP) 14,750 adds
James has been a very effective fantasy pitcher as of late. In six starts since August 9, he's gone 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 39.0 innings and 28 strikeouts. In his most recent start, a 5-0 win at the Mets on September 4, James allowed just one hit in his eight innings of work.
Mike Timlin (Bos – RP) 13,720 adds
Jonathan Papelbon has been sidelined by a right shoulder injury and may not pitch again this season, particularly if the Red Sox don't make up ground in the chase for the postseason. Timlin has recorded the Red Sox's past two saves, and appears to be in line for the opportunities indefinitely – most fantasy owners aren't going to turn down a few extra saves, particularly at this point of the season.
Buzz Index (Baseball) – Drops
Mark Teahen (KC – 3B) 42,592 drops
Teahen is slated to have surgery on Friday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, ending his 2006 season. With the Royals sporting the majors' worst record, and the 25-year-old considered a big part of the team's future, the decision to have surgery was arrived at after multiple MRIs and over a month of deliberation. Teahen, who has been experiencing problems with his shoulder since the end of last season, took his final at bats on Tuesday night and finished the season with a .290 average (114 for 393) in 109 games, with 18 home runs, 69 runs batted in, 70 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases.
Michael Barrett (ChC – C) 15,860 drops
Barrett's 2006 season also appears to be over for all intents and purposes after he underwent emergency surgery on Saturday for an intrascrotal hematoma – he was injured when he was hit in the scrotum by a foul ball earlier in the day, which resulted in internal bleeding and had ramifications which could have extended well beyond the field of play had the injury not been treated when it was. While it is possible that Barrett could "only" miss two to three weeks while he recovers, fantasy owners aren't waiting to find out if the best-case scenario of a final week or two from Barrett will be what puts their squads over the top.
Ken Griffey Jr. (Cin – OF) 14,921 drops
Junior's games played total for the 2006 season is at 107 and holding after he suffered a dislocated toe on Monday, September 4. While Griffey himself doesn't intend to be out for an extended period, he has the dreaded "indefinite" timeframe for a return to the field. He has been listed as day-to-day and told to "take some anti-inflammatories and let the swelling go down and see what we've got and go from there." It's worth noting that Griffey suffered a foot sprain on September 4 of last season, was listed as day-to-day at that time, but never had another at bat during the season.
Eddie Guardado (Cin – RP) 14,132 drops
"Everyday" Eddie is also scheduled to go under the knife on Friday, in his case to replace a torn ligament in his left elbow, otherwise known as Tommy John surgery. The surgery not only ends Guardado's 2006 season but also limits his chances of contributing much during the 2007 season. Guardado lost his job as Mariners closer to J.J. Putz earlier in the season, but pitched effectively after a mid-season trade to the Reds – he recorded eight saves in 15 games while posting a 1.29 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 14.0 innings for the Reds.
Juan Rivera (LAA – OF) 11,172 drops
Rivera has aggravated a "four-year-old injury" in his left hand, according to the Los Angeles Times, diagnosed as a strain in the back of the hand. While it only hurts when he swings and misses, the injury was enough to sideline him for the team's past two games and could extend his time on the shelf through the weekend. Some fantasy owners who are looking for help during the stretch run aren't waiting to see how Rivera's hand heals up during the down time.