Friends and Family Matters: Slow starts

Michael Gehlken

Slow starts happen. So do letdown seasons.

At what point is it time to worry that your fantasy player is experiencing the latter?

In the 14-team Yahoo! Friends and Family League, five experts have provided their take on a slow starter from each of their rosters. Two weeks into the season, are they confident in a forthcoming turnaround, or is it officially time to be concerned?

Dwayne Bowe(notes): 5 rec, 58 yds
Season rank: 2086
Drafted: Round 4, pick 11 (53rd overall)
Owner: Scott Engel,

Engel: "Bowe is simply too good of a WR not to come up with some quality performances in the weeks ahead. He is physical, tough and quick. He may be inconsistent this year, but will still produce some good numbers. He will remain Matt Cassel's(notes) go-to guy, which isn't a great label, but even mediocre QBs have to complete passes and have the occasional above-average outing."

DeAngelo Williams(notes): 113 rushing yds, 3 rec, 20 yds
Season rank: 113
Drafted: Round 1, pick 14 Owner: Brandon Funston, Yahoo! Sports

Funston: "I know that past performance does not guarantee future returns, but I take some solace in Williams having never rushed for more than 86 yards in a September game for his career. I think it's fair to characterize him as someone that takes a little while to get going. I will say, though, that his subpar performance in Week 2 against Tampa Bay, a team I expected him to roll against, was probably the biggest factor in my first loss in the F&F (I lost by five points). In a general sense, though, he hasn't fallen outside my top 12 running backs. If he's still sputtering by the time he hits his Week 6 bye, then I'll be worried."

Shonn Greene(notes): 70 rushing yds, 3 rec., 13 yds, 1 fumble lost
Season rank: 1696
Drafted: Round 2, Pick 9, 23rd overall
Owner: Scott Pianowski, Yahoo! Sports

Pianowski: "Here's all you need to know about my Greene stance - I've offered him to Brandon for LaDainian Tomlinson(notes). Stop the bus, I want to get off. Greene can't catch the ball, he can't play on passing downs, and through two weeks LT looks like the better back."

"I know selling low is a terrible strategy in this game and I should probably be patient and at least wait for a Greene breakout before I think about a trade, but we don't get a lot of weeks to fix things in this fantasy world. Just 13 regular-season Sundays and then the playoffs hit. Say Mike, got a Greene offer for me?"

"In public leagues you can probably go the other way, buy low - I get the price will be even cheaper than what I'm calling for. But in our F&F circle, it's not easy ownin' Greene. It will be interesting to see what he does against Miami this week; the Dolphins are giving up 4.1 YPC through two weeks, though that's in part because they faced the incomparable Adrian Peterson in Week 2."

Felix Jones(notes): 45 rushing yds, 4 rec, 38 yds
Season rank: 195
Drafted: Round 4, Pick 2 (44th overall)
Owner: Rick Schwartz, Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football Live

Schwartz: "F & F drafted in early preseason, so I'll use that as an excuse for taking Felix Jones over Arian Foster(notes). I didn't make that mistake in my later drafts, but this one has me scrambling. If things don't progress, I don't know who'll have an aneurysm first, me or Jerry Jones. Felix runs very well to his left and can make people miss. Try spreading the field, pulling a guard, and giving him MORE THAN 3 CARRIES TOTAL in the first quarter of 2 games. Who knows, Wade and Jason, you might even pop a long play! My go-forward feeling is, everything has to get better in Dallas, because it can't be this bad all season. Felix's value is at its nadir. PPR owners should hang on to him - he's better than Barber and will show it. "

Ryan Mathews(notes): 104 rushing yds, 3 rec, 31 yds, 2 fumbles
Season rank: 180
Drafted: Round 1, pick 12 (12th overall)
Owner: Matt Romig, Yahoo! Sports

Romig: "I'm not a doctor, which makes it tough to forecast what will happen with Mathews over the next 15 weeks. I do know one thing: you say 'high-ankle sprain' and I say something that is not fit to print, but loosely translates to 'uh oh.' The good news for me, short-term, is that Mathews appears to be close to ready, but looks likely to be inactive on Sunday. The easiest fantasy decisions are the ones made for you. If he's inactive, you go to plan B and don't look back. If he plays, then you face the tough choice of sitting one of your stars (which I will do if he does suit up). I've seen enough from Mathews to be confident he'll return first-round value with a full workload, and it was nice to see San Diego get the running game going Sunday, even if Mathews only got one trip through the buffet line. We shouldn't abandon ship after six quarters any more than we should overreact to Michael Vick's(notes) performance over the same sample size. The fumbling is a concern, obviously, as ball-security issues can seriously impact his activity in the red zone and late in games. That's another thing that's tough to forecast. Still, I'm not selling low – or selling at all."

Working the Wire
This section tracks the expert league's weekly free-agency activity. The player pool defaults to waivers Sunday though Tuesday, after which owners bid on free agents using a $100 free-agency auction budget. Players who clear waivers can be added free of charge.

The move: Andy Behrens (Yahoo!) dropped LaRon Stephens-Howling, added DeMaryius Thomas(notes) for $56.
Synopsis: Here's a purchase. Behrens splashes the bank for a rookie wide receiver with serious upside. Thomas had eight catches, 97 yards and a touchdown in his Week 2 debut. Rookie wide receivers typically don't pay out, but there is alwaysthe occasional exception. This is exactly the aggressive, swing-for-the-fences move that an 0-2 team should look to make.

The move: I dropped Davone Bess(notes), added Mike Tolbert(notes) for $17.
Synopsis: I wrote about Tolbert in the preseason. I wrote about him twice this week (here and here). Follow those links for descriptions of his destruction. For some fantasy talk, let's go. I've seen a few sites say coach Norv Turner has made Tolbert the Chargers' goal-line back. He hasn't. Not to say he won't change his mind, but right now he likes both Mathews and Tolbert. Second, Mathews is going to be fine. He was jogging, high stepping on the sideline and walking without a limp after his Week 2 ankle injury. (The high ankle sprain report looks false). He should miss Week 3 but will probably be back Week 4. Tolbert's a finisher who will close out games and, occasionally, scoring drives. With the Chargers' cupcake early schedule likely to produce its share of garbage time, don't overlook Tolbert's role as a closer. I'm leaning on him as a flex option to survive the next month-or-so without Reggie Bush(notes).

The move: Chris Liss ( dropped Derrick Ward(notes), added Keiland Williams(notes) for $9.
Synopsis: Willie Parker(notes) was cut. Larry Johnson(notes) was cut. The Redskins backfield is thinning, and with the injury-prone Clinton Portis(notes) scuffling, no one should be surprised if coach Mike Shannahan's next move is to pull an obscure name out of his hat like Williams or Ryan Torain(notes). For now, Williams has immediate value in PPR leagues as Redskins' third-down back. He's a guy to watch.

Other adds: Jason Snelling(notes) ($21), Lance Moore(notes) ($8), Matthew Stafford(notes) ($6), Dustin Keller(notes) ($6), Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes) ($6), Washington defense ($4), Nick Folk(notes) ($3), Jeff Reed(notes) ($3), Alex Smith ($1), Matt Bryant(notes), Aaron Hernandez(notes), Miami defense, Rashad Jennings(notes), Roy Williams, Anthony Dixon(notes), Correll Buckhalter(notes) and Laurence Maroney(notes).

Other drops: Carolina defense, Laurent Robinson(notes), Mike Bell(notes), Kansas City defense, Dallas defense, Ryan Longwell(notes), Jay Feely(notes), Kevin Kolb(notes), David Buehler(notes), Larry Johnson, Tennessee defense, Chad Henne(notes), Javon Ringer(notes), Le'Ron McClain(notes), Devery Henderson(notes), Brandon Lloyd(notes) and Mike Williams (SEA).

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