Fan mail: Ford, Foster and more

BY foxsports • September 9, 2011

You asked, we answered. Today is our second edition of Fantasy Fan Mail, a piece that’s hopefully a staple segment during the season contingent on, you know, getting enough emails to build an article around. Enjoy:

Jovan from Chicago, IL: I've seen the Raiders use Jacoby Ford for rushing, and returns as well. Could the Oakland WR be a threat/asset on my fantasy roster?

Ford’s quickly rising up the WR rankings thanks to his increased involvement in the Oakland offense, as well as a vote of confidence from head coach Hue Jackson, who predicted Ford to snag 75-80 catches this fall. Injuries sustained by Louis Murphy have also correlated to an upswing in Ford’s worth.

Although Ford will be featured in multiple packages, don’t expect the versatile performer to see more than one-to-three carries per contest. However, with Murphy sidelined, as well as the exodus of security blanket Zach Miller, Ford has the potential to be a No. 1 receiver in an air-based offense.

As for you, Jovan from Chicago, I Googled your name to double-check if “Jovan” was the handle that Paul Rudd attempts to place on Jason Segel in a futile effort to build a bromantic rapport in the movie I Love You, Man. Apparently the ill-fated nickname in question was “Joban.” In turn, this search snowballed into a seven-minute sabbatical from work to watch outtakes from the film. Thanks for killing my productivity, Jovan.

Odie from Columbus, OH: Would you start K. Britt against the Jags defense or J. Maclin against the Rams with his health concerns?

In actuality, Britt’s output is more likely to be effected by injury, as the Titan wideout was hampered most of training camp with a hamstring issue while Maclin has reported himself back in full health.

That said, don’t misconstrue this as criticism on either player’s forecast for Week 1. The Rams-Eagles matchup should facilitate a fantasy shootout that will rival Thursday night’s epic Packers-Saints showdown. Yet while I’m a big proponent of Sam Bradford and the St. Louis attack, Britt is the safer play of the two receivers in question. The Jacksonville secondary was deplorable in 2010, as the Jags were one of five teams to surrender 4,000 passing yards on the season. The franchise did little to shore up this unit in the offseason aside from using a fourth-round pick on safety Chris Prosinski, theoretically allowing Britt and the Tennessee passing game to run wild on Sunday. Owners may be hesitant with Matt Hasselbeck at the helm, but considering Vince Young and Kerry Collins were under center for the Titans last year, Hasselbeck should be an upgrade.


Haters gonna hate.

I’ve had this vitriolic epistle in my mailbox since the end of August, and I’m still unsettled on what brings me the most delight: the constant erroneous utilization of “your”; the standardized deployment of exclamation marks and capitalization; the word “WRITTER”; that a grown man would type “LOL”; or that such a passionate Peyton Manning fan lives in Tampa.

In Robert’s defense, this was composed before word leaked that Manning required another round of surgery, putting his season in jeopardy. This denotes that Indy fans are about to get acquainted with Kerry Collins more than any fan base should be subjected to in 2011. While his exploits may be underwhelming on the field, Collins has a slim (and let me reinforce slim) shot of contributing in deep or two-QB fantasy formats. Keeping the mindset that the Colts will find themselves behind in many a ballgame, Collins will be forced to fight through the air. The results may not pay off on the scoreboard for Indianapolis, but you can reap the benefits in your fantasy league.

Chad Hixson from Virginia Beach: (abridged) RBs are A Foster and P Hillis, BU's are J Best, F Jones. Can't see putting Best instead of Foster unless the hammy is really bad. Your thoughts?

With great pains do I inscribe this reply, for I too was duped into ignoring Foster’s injury concerns and used one of my keeper selections on last season’s leading rusher. (Granted, our jacked-up keeper rules delegated Foster as my seventh-round pick, so the gamble was relatively low. But still, $#@%.) The last two weeks, the Houston back has brushed off questions regarding his health, simply stating he would be in uniform for Week 1. Then he tweeted a photo of his MRI, expressed his lack of care for fantasy football and suddenly has become the dreaded “game-time decision” for the Texans. Sigh.

Monitor his situation closely, but for now, replace Foster with Felix Jones in your lineup. Even if Foster is ready to roll, his touches may be limited, devaluing his fantasy worth for Week 1.

Chad from Highland Village, Texas: Ryan Grant or Fred Jackson?

Two Chads in one mailbag! For some reason, this makes me unjustifiably elated.

Unfortunately, I was unable to answer this inquiry before Thursday’s ballgame, and do have the luxury of hindsight, but my response mirrors my sentiment before last night’s kickoff. While Grant and Jackson are serviceable backs with gas left in the tank, both of their fantasy values have been undercut by the presence of their younger counterparts in C.J. Spiller and James Starks.

I foresee Jackson and Grant topping at 12-to-14 carries a game, which is still beneficial in deeper leagues at the flex spot. However, their ceilings are certainly limited, so don’t heavily depend on either for consistent production.

Ron Williams from Tacoma, WA: Who would you rather start at W/R flex position Week 1, Julio Jones or Lee Evans?

Evans had a decent showing in two preseason games with the Ravens, collecting six receptions for 128 yards and a score. With Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Todd Heap all exiled from the Baltimore roster, Evans will serve as a trustworthy complement to Anquan Boldin. Suppressed for years by quarterback ineptitude in Buffalo, Evans could be unleashed with Joe Flacco as his field general.

Alas, the Ravens take on a formidable force in the Steelers, maiming Evans’ worth for Week 1. Jones, on the other hand, faces a Chicago secondary that was prone against the pass in the 2010 campaign, ranking 20th in opposing aerial yards per game. Although history hasn’t been kind to rookie receivers, Jones owns the higher upside on Sunday.

T. John Robinson from Los Angeles: Backup suggestions?

I feel there should be a prerequisite of prestige or status to abbreviate your first name to one letter (like T. Boone Pickens). Keeping this premise in mind, I’m assuming T. John Robinson is currently seated on an outdoor patio overlooking his estate under an umbrella, wearing a fedora and sipping a mojito. Chances are he’s some schmuck like me working in a cubicle, but hey, I can dream.

Anyway, let’s infer Mr. Robinson was requesting info on actual second-stringers who could come to fantasy fruition this season. I’ve already preached his name from the pulpit multiple times, but once Pete Carroll comes to the realization that Tarvaris Jackson is his starting quarterback and hands the reins of the Seattle offense to Charlie Whitehurst, the Clemson product will be a solid fantasy contributor. (Why he hasn’t come to this cognizance yet is perfect illustration of why he’s failed twice in the NFL.) Just so you don’t think I’m blowing smoke up your butt, I did like Randall Cobb’s prospects in our backup breakout piece before he lit the Saints on fire last night. Emmanuel Sanders for the Steelers and Cecil Shorts for the Jaguars are two names that can make some noise later on in the season. If Derrick Ward is available in your league, pick him up yesterday. Also keep an eye on Bernard Scott of the Bengals and Kendall Hunter of the 49ers, both backs who could provide dividends once fall turns to winter.