October 8, 2010

Fantasy Impact: Getting Back in Gear

It's week 5 and you know what that means! Suspensions are over! Hip Hip Hooray! I can only imagine the poor football players who were separated from their teams, running across open fields to their awaiting head coaches and teammates. (In slo-mo of course) It would surely be a beautiful sight to see.

Ok, that's enough with that fantasy. Let's move to the other one. The one where we score points, and talk trash and whatnot. Three major players will return to the NFL this week, even if one has to wait until week 6 to make his debut. So what kind of fantasy impact can we expect from these players? Let's take a look.

Brian Cushing LB, Texans
There's nothing better than a linebacker on 'roids. Their success is based upon how hard and often they hit people. Sounds like a match made in heaven. The defending NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year has shown that he can be a dominant force in the rushing and passing game, registering 133 tackles, 4 sacks and 4 INTs. So what does that mean going forward? A lot more troubles for teams facing the Texans. While Houston has been a sieve in the passing game, its run defense has held up quite nicely, allowing only 70.3 yards a game (2nd best in the NFL). Adding a perennial Pro-Bowl candidate back into that equation makes opposing offenses even less likely to move the ball on the ground, and makes passes across the middle all the more difficult. If Cushing comes back with a chip on his shoulder, he could be angry, and you won't like him when he's angry. So watch out when playing your star RB against the Texans' D, they might not be the beautiful match-up they once were.

Ben Roethlisberger QB, Steelers
Probably the most publicized suspension of them all, Big Ben won't get to return to a game until next week against the Browns. For a guy who received so much criticism, talk about a warm welcome. Not only does he get a bye week, but he gets to go up against the cake walk that is the Browns' pass coverage. There's no doubt that this is still Roethlisberger's team, since Mike Tomlin took the keys from Charlie Batch like he was a SADD member at a frat party.
The reports thus far of Roethlisberger's arm have been great, and it looks like he will pick up where he left off last year, posting his best fantasy season of his career. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts without Santonio Holmes (more on him in a second), but I expect Mike Wallace to pick up the slack, and Hines Ward to be his great ole self. Look for a spike in production in both of the Steelers' receivers, and a few big weeks out of Big Ben, as he tries to play his way back into the people's hearts. 

Santonio Holmes WR, Jets
What will Ben and Santonio do without each other?
Hey, speak of the devil, look who it is. No, not the devil. Although, will all of his legal troubles he might be able to run for election. After an incident at a nightclub (how many times have we heard that before?), Holmes was suspended by the league and was traded to the Jets for a pack of gum. The receiver who went for 1248 yards and 5 TDs, will definitely experience a downgrade in QB play, since Sanchez is no where near Roethlisberger in terms of passing. But, again, I look for Santonio to try and imitate Kobe following his arrest, and play his ass off. For these players, the only way they will gain the acceptance of the public again will be if they stay out of trouble and play at a high level. Great news for fantasy owners.