Yesterday was the day.
The day I am referring to, of course, is Yom Kippur, the Jewish high holiday.
For you notzrim out there (that's a Hebrew word for non-Jewish folks), Yom Kippur is known as the "Day of Atonement." The idea, in its simplest form, is that Jewish folks atone for all their sins to God over the past year. We spend the day in temple, fasting, praying and asking God's forgiveness. The slate is then wiped clean and we all get a fresh start. One full day, we atone and then we're good. It is, spiritually speaking, a helluva deal.
It's also a great idea that should not be limited to Judaism. We need a Fantasy Day of Atonement. Matt Forte needs to apologize to me and all his owners. He needs to beg forgiveness for his past sins (namely, being terrible for three straight weeks) and then, the slate is wiped clean. We are good to go for Week 4 and beyond.
I do this column every year around this time, and this year it could not come soon enough. There's a lot of people who must atone for their fantasy sins this year, including ...
Tom Brady: Look, dude. You are rich, famous, great looking, married to a supermodel, have a bunch of Super Bowl rings, have a head coach who likes to run up the score and two great wide receivers. We spent thousands of hours on "SportsCenter" detailing your every move. "Tom Brady took a sip of water. He looks healthy!" You lead a charmed life. Karma should not affect you. This is outrageous. Atone and start running up the score, the yardage and the highlights.
Terrell Owens: You have 16 fantasy points. On the season! Bryant Johnson of the Lions had 13 points in Week 3. Look, I knew you were going to be terrible. Preached you as a bust left and right and said folks were nuts to take you as the 10th wide receiver off the board. But I thought you'd be serviceable. If you had any other name, I'd actually put you on the dumpsville list this week. Here's how bad you are: If you were a reality show, you'd be "The T.O. Show." Atone and ... you know what? I don't care.
LaDainian Tomlinson: You were the iron man. In eight previous seasons, you had missed one game. One! In eight years! And that game was in 2004, in Week 17, when you guys had clinched, so you could have played if necessary. You swore you were healthy. You had something to prove. And all you have proven is that folks should have gone with Chris Johnson or Steven Jackson. Atone and get back on the field, pronto.
Clinton Portis: OK, my Redskins are terrible. I get it. But you were supposed to be good. The wacky disguises that were only funny to you? We put up with that because you were good. But now? You lost to Detroit. You have yet to crack 80 yards rushing. You have yet to score. You're killing me. Atone for your entire team.
Roddy White: The poster child for the elite wide receiver that has yet to play like one. Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson haven't been first-round-worthy yet, Brandon Marshall is now a headache for his fantasy owners, not just the Broncos and Steve Smith (Carolina Edition) has had only one good week and is fast in danger of becoming "the other Steve Smith." Atone and start catching something other than air.
Francisco Liriano and David Price: Yeah, they're baseball players, but so what? They screwed me in Tout Wars and I hate them. Geovany Soto, you're on this list too.
Who else needs to atone? Eddie Royal, the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs organizations, Joseph Addai for being just decent enough that Donald Brown can't get the full-time gig, everyone who voted for Kris Allen over Adam Lambert, the creepy criminal ex-boyfriend of Anne Hathaway, Brady Quinn for killing the fantasy value of every single Brown, Tim Hightower (see Addai, Joseph), Cadillac Williams (on behalf of all Derrick Ward owners), Brett Favre for making plays like Sunday's, which means I have to spend the next year hearing about you (again), my Redskins (once is not enough), Prince for the whole period when he changed his name to a symbol (I still haven't gotten over that), Jon and Kate (but not the eight) for existing, PodVader (list of reasons too long to mention, please listen to our podcast), Frank Gore's ankle (really? Had to go one play, didn't you? Couldn't sit out the game before so we could have replaced you?), all the cruel men who have broken sweet Paris Hilton's heart, all the people who just read that last sentence and thought I was serious, all the people who sent angry e-mails to me and left insulting comments on the ESPN Conversation pages after last week's column because I recommended you dump Ted "0 catches for 0 yards in Week 3" Ginn Jr., my hairline, all the people who were jerks to me in high school and now try to friend me on Facebook, one more time for my Redskins wouldn't kill them, Jake Delhomme, the pizza company behind the annoying commercials where a guy yells "Jackpot," the Chick-fil-A corporation for not having any franchises in the North. I am obsessed with Chick-fil-A. And finally, the last person who needs to atone?
Beau Heyman (West Palm Beach, Fla.): Dear TMR, thanks for the great pre-draft advice that has my team at 0-3 and fielding the likes of Roddy White, Calvin Johnson and Matt Forte. You are a genius.
I need to atone.
If it helps, they're killing me as much as they're killing you.
And, if I killed you on a weekly start/sit decision, like me having Willie Parker on the "Hate" list this past week, I need to atone. If I have ever steered you wrong, I need to atone. This intro is way too long, so I atone for that. I beseech your forgiveness for the bad picks, worse puns and for using the word beseech. And as I continue to atone to the fantasy gods, we finally get around to ...
Pickups of the week
"Say Baby, are you a parking meter? Because you've got 'fine' written all over you."
As always, ownership percentages in ESPN.com standard leagues are listed in parentheses. And a reminder: This is the first week of byes. White gets to take the week off (how can we tell?) and think about his sins along with the rest of the Falcons, and the Cardinals, Panthers and Eagles are also off.
Glen Coffee, RB, 49ers (29.5 percent): The no-brainer, must-have pickup of the week, Coffee is now the (taster's?) choice in San Francisco. Much better than the hacky pun on his last name would suggest, he tore it up in the preseason (249 yards on 42 carries for a average of 5.9 yards per carry) and gets the Rams next. The Falcons, Texans and Colts are the next three after that (with a bye thrown in) and, as Stephania Bell noted on today's podcast, she thinks Gore might miss more than the three weeks initially suggested. Yes, Coffee didn't do much when he came in for Gore (25 carries, 54 yards) but that was on the road against a very good run defense. San Francisco is currently in the upper half of the league in rushing attempts. They will run the ball and run it with Coffee. Use your No. 1 waiver pick and don't look back.
Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys (8 percent): We don't know the status of Marion Barber or Felix Jones as of this writing and I already used the bad choice pun on Coffee. But this much I do know: The Cowboys lead the NFL in rushing, and if either guy is banged up, Choice will have a lot of value, especially with the Broncos and Chiefs next up.
Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns (1 percent): When Jamal Lewis went out with a hammy, everyone (including me) thought rookie James Davis would get the call, since, you know, he was awesome during the preseason. But Mangenius went with Harrison, who had 21 touches for 85 total yards in a game against Baltimore in which the Browns were getting their butts kicked. Even more interesting, considering all their struggles at quarterback, is the fact that Harrison had five receptions (and seven targets) for 33 yards. In fact, Harrison's nine receptions on the year is only one behind team leader Braylon Edwards. Considering with injuries and bye weeks you might need a running back and only one guy is getting Coffee (if he's even still available), Harrison is an interesting name against the Bengals if Jamal can't go.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars (7 percent): Second straight week with six receptions and at least 80 yards and the thing I like is that he has 20 targets on the year (MJD has 22, Torry Holt has 23). No one else is even close. I mentioned him last week in the Mendoza section, you know I love David Garrard as a quarterback and it's clear the Jags are going to have to throw it. In fact, I'm sure no one else will agree with me, but I'd rather have him than the next guy.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts (3 percent): I really thought Austin Collie would emerge when Gonzalez went down, and honestly, as one fan tweeted me the other day, what are the odds we'd have two productive fantasy players named Pierre? Another Mendoza selection from last week, he's scored in two straight and Seattle, Tennessee and St. Louis are up in the next three weeks (with a bye in there). He only has four receptions in the past two games, which makes me think the production will be of the feast-or-famine sort (he is, at best, the No. 4 option on offense) and I'm not sure I'd feel safe starting him, but on the Colts you have a chance to score every play, and that's good enough for me to put him here.
Keenan Burton, WR, Rams (1 percent): They are going to be down, they are going to be throwing and at this point, he's kind of all they got. Don't love him, but the 49ers, Vikings, Jaguars, Colts and Lions are next up, and you can, to varying degrees, throw on all of them (Minny and Indy are tough, but not impossible). Especially if you are down. With Laurent Robinson out for the year and Donnie Avery banged up, Burton (3 for 37 last week) is interesting to me.
Kyle Boller, QB, Rams (1 percent): Same schedule as ol' Keenan up there, and while we don't know the status of Marc Bulger, it's not a crazy bet to say Bulger will be hurt again, even if he plays this week. I've always liked Boller and, in relief of Bulger in Week 3, he did throw for two scores and 15 fantasy points, same as Tom Brady. (Arghhh! Atone, Tom!) I like him much more than Chad Henne, Josh Johnson or either Browns QBs, if you are scrounging that deep.
Maurice Morris, RB, Lions (1 percent): I was brought up to believe that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Kevin Smith's status is uncertain, and Morris will be the starter if Smith can't go. And, um if you need a running back, he qualifies. There.
From the Obvious Name Department
"The sun will come up tomorrow and water turns to ice when you freeze it."
Here's some super-obvious names who may be available in your league if it's very shallow or you play with morons.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints (80 percent), will be back from injury soon and will become a big part of the best offense in football. ... LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles (87 percent), sure looked good to me filling in for Brian Westbrook. Now, they have a bye next week and I'm guessing Westbrook is back for Week 5, just like I'm sure Westbrook will end up missing more games. Can we add Brian Westbrook's knees to the list of those who need to atone? ... Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets (45 percent), is not just dreamy, he's gonna finish the year as a top-16 quarterback. ... Fred Taylor, RB, Patriots (84 percent), is the New England running back you want, if you are forced to start one of them. ... Kevin Walter, WR, Texans (83 percent), is back, producing and I love him. Even more than "Friend of the Podcast" Lance Moore, if both were available.
Second Verse, Same as the First
"Don't look back in anger"
Lots of guys who have been mentioned in previous versions of this column who are still available in way too many leagues include Steve Smith (Giants Edition, 66 percent) and Mario Manningham (also a Giant, 77 percent), Correll Buckhalter of the Broncos (38 percent), Nate Burleson of the Seahawks (37 percent), Johnny Knox of the Bears (20 percent), Eagles TE Brent Celek (31 percent) and, for deeper leagues, Bobby Wade of the Chiefs (2 percent).
Just Below the Mendoza Line
"I'm not ready to commit -- can we just keep it casual?"
Here are some guys who I wouldn't pick up just yet (except in deeper leagues), but who bear watching as their value may soon spike.
I'm still not ready to buy Andre Caldwell, WR, Bengals (1 percent), just yet, but he scored last week, came about a half yard short the other week and is second in targets on the Bengals. ... I still think Bernard Berrian turns it on and Percy Harvin isn't going anywhere, but Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings (6 percent), has increased his receptions for three straight weeks and caught a 30-yard touchdown from He Who Shall Not Be Named (Except When I Need Him For A Joke Like I Did In The Preseason Love/Hate Update). ... Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs (7 percent), was solid (9 touches, 70 yards) and Larry Johnson was not. Again.
Tyler Thigpen, QB, Dolphins (0 Percent) is headed to Miami. You all know last year I was wiggy for Thiggy and now that he's been traded to the Dolphins, he may have a chance. They are going to give Chad Henne every chance but Thigpen has upside and an easier path to a starter gig than most. Worth keeping an eye on.
I liked Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers (9 percent), last week as a matchup play, but he's not someone I would trust every week. Still, Shaun Hill does look for him more and this week's game versus the Rams could be a slugfest. ... Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans (1 percent), has now scored in back-to-back weeks. ... With Clinton Portis' ankles continuing to be an issue, it wouldn't be a shock if Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins (4 percent), suddenly had value.
With tight end being so deep this year, I can't imagine a scenario in which I'd feel super confident in Daniel Fells, TE, Rams (0 percent), but he scored twice from Kyle Boller on Sunday, was targeted five times and it's not like they have a ton of healthy people to catch the ball ... Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers, led the team in targets last week, catching seven balls for 102 yards, and he bears watching going forward. They like him a lot there. And finally, Bryant Johnson, WR, Lions, not only scored last week, and put up 73 yards, but is only nine targets behind MegaTron for the Lions' lead on a team that will be throwing.
Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: You
This is always a tough section because the criticism is either "No duh, that guy sucks" or "What? I can't drop Ted Ginn Jr! He's awesome!" Or some such. The idea is that the pickups I recommend are guys I think, depending on your team needs, league size, etc., are guys you can add. And in cases like last week, yes, I like someone like Nate Burleson more than Ted Ginn. So if you owned Ted and Nate was available, Ted being on last week's list was my way of saying ... go for it. As with everything, take this advice in context with everything else and think for yourself.
Trent Edwards (69 percent), Jake Delhomme (19 percent), Byron Leftwich (12 percent), Mike Bell (56 percent), Michael Bush (33 percent), Laurence Maroney (26 percent), Sammy Morris (50 percent), Rashard Mendenhall (40 percent), Le'Ron McClain (78 percent), Josh Morgan (70 percent), Kevin Curtis (42 percent), Bobby Engram (53 percent), Laveranues Coles (89 percent), Chris Henry (17 percent), Anthony Gonzalez (79 percent), Zach Miller (90 percent), Visanthe Shiancoe (45 percent).
So ... who is on your atone list?
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