Fantasy football stock watch

Fantasy football stock watch
September 20, 2012, 3:30 pm
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By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

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Danny Amendola, WR, Rams: His average route isn't much deeper than a phone booth, but there's something to be said for finding holes in zones and keeping the chains moving. And with Sam Bradford looking sharp again, the Rams passing game is no longer a toxic waste dump. We obviously can't chase Amendola's 15 receptions from last week, but he should be good for 5-7 grabs against Chicago's effective-but-predictable Cover 2.

Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions: His push off to the year has been solid if unspectacular - eight grabs, 95 yards, one touchdown, one egregious TD drop. But we mention Pettigrew here because he's taking dead aim at a Tennessee secondary that's allowed five tight end touchdowns through two weeks, including a Donte Rosario hat trick in Week 2. Go where the matchup steers you.

Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins: There's nothing special to his skill set, but Hartline runs precise routes and catches just about anything in his neighborhood. More importantly, he's been the receiver quickest to adjust to rookie quarterback Ryan Tannenhill. if anyone is going to snag 60-70 downfield passes here, it's Hartline. Consider him a deep WR3 or a shallow WR4 in standard leagues.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Giants: Big Blue has to play without Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw in Carolina this week, which clears the deck for Bennett. The jumbo-sized tight end has already surprised us with nine catches for 112 yards and two scores, and the Panthers linebackers and safeties can be leaky in coverage. Eli Manning knows a good thing when he sees it.

Donnie Avery, WR, Colts: We're already on board with Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne - the 2012 Colts remind us of the 2011 Panthers, a fantasy carnival - and Avery might be the third amigo in the group, especially if Austin Collie can't shake his concussion problem. Avery had a strong 9-111 run against the Vikings (on just 10 targets), showing the ability to find open space and cut aggressively after the catch. You'd never guess he had several knee injuries back in his St. Louis days.

Vernon Davis, TE, Niners: The Maryland product finally grasped the Jim Harbaugh offense late last year, and a ballistic run in the playoff followed (four touchdowns, 292 yards). Small-sample fluke? Not on our clipboard. Davis already has three spikes in 2012, showing he's the most dynamic receiver in the 49ers scheme. And while Alex Smith isn't an elite quarterback, he's very good with seam throws - and his pre-snap reads have improved dramatically.

Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers: Although he doesn't have sprinter speed, you love that LaFell managed 17.0 YPC last year, a combination of usage patterns and the ability to adjust to the ball in the air. The Panthers have expanded LaFell's responsibilities this year, resulting in 155 yards and a score through two weeks. From watching the film to this point, you can see how much the club likes LaFell - he was a deep specialist last year, but he's running a variety of routes this season. LaFell also appreciates the constant double coverage that opponents throw at teammate Steve Smith.

Brandon Meyers, TE, Raiders: Carson Palmer isn't a deep or sideline thrower at this stage of his career, so it makes sense that Meyers is making plenty of hay over the middle. The unheralded Iowa product has a snappy 11 grabs for 151 yards through two weeks, securing each target in his direction. That's how trust is built.

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Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: His blocking has been terrible, the play-calling is ordinary and predictable, and Tennessee's defense can't keep the games close through four periods. Other than that, everything's fine. Johnson might find some lanes in Week 3 against an overrated Lions defense, but after that the matchups tighten up (Houston, Minnesota, Pittsburgh).

David Wilson, RB, Giants: The opening-night fumble landed him in Tom Coughlin's expansive doghouse, and even the Ahmad Bradshaw injury in Week 2 didn't rescue Wilson - Andre Brown came out of obscurity and took over in the backfield. Brown was also a big part of Big Blue's comeback last week, so he'll get the rock at Carolina. Wait your turn, rookie.

James Jones, WR, Packers: While he has good size for a wideout and adequate speed, Jones has trouble separating downfield and his ball skills in the air leave a lot to be desired. Jones couldn't secure what should have been a Week 2 touchdown at Chicago, and you can't blame Aaron Rodgers for focusing on other receivers. The Packers don't want to promote Jones past the WR3 tag, and he might not even be that important by this time next year. Even in deeper pools, we'd rather spend our lottery ticket elsewhere.

Ryan Williams, RB, Cardinals: He was the snappier runner in the win at New England, but he also put the ball on the ground late - his second fumble of the year. Even if Williams fixes the ball-security problem, he's still running behind the NFC's worst run-blocking line. Let someone else chase the dream. We don't see a 1,000-yard rusher in the desert.

Jared Cook, TE, Titans: A seven-catch, 87-yard start might not seem that bad, but it's going to get worse before it gets better for Cook. More mouths are around to feed in the offense - Kendall Wright is emerging, Kenny Britt is back - and we're not going to bet our fantasy lives on scattershot second-year QB Jake Locker (who's been running for his life through two weeks).