Week 7: Pickups of the Week
We're just a week away from the start of the NBA season. To get you in the hard court mood, here are some hoops-themed NFL pickups of the week.MyFantasyLeague availability: 100%
There's no basketball parallel for a guy like Cassel. Over the first few weeks of this season, there weren't a lot of football parallels either. Cassel went from solid in 2008, to mediocre in 2009 to atrocious early this year, but he's showing signs of getting things in order. Twice now he's thrown for three touchdowns in a game and he has only one pick over the last three games. On Sunday he faces a Jaguars team that has turned average QBs like Cassel into superstars. Jacksonville owns the dubious distinction of allowing the highest per-game QB rating to opposing pivots this year. Cassel is a worthwhile gamble if you need a one-week fix while Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub and Mark Sanchez have the week off.MyFantasyLeague availability: 64%
Ask any fantasy basketball owner about Don Nelson and they'll either praise or curse him wildly. There's simply no in-between. Nellie-ball -- characterized by a fast-paced, high-scoring offense where little-known players can post all-star numbers one day and be benched the next -- has decided plenty of fantasy basketball championships. Saints coach Sean Payton is currently running football's version. Receivers in his offense break loose for big numbers one week, hardly see a single pass the next. Running backs come and go; at any time, a back could bust out like undrafted, unheralded Chris Ivory did last Sunday. Next game it could be Betts, then maybe Julius Jones. Bush and Thomas are both expected back within the next few weeks and could relegate Ivory to the bench. Then again, maybe not. Payton, like Nelson is a mad scientist and a player in his offense is a loaded gun in the hand of a maniac. Ivory carries considerable risk, but we've now seen his reward potential.MyFantasyLeague availability: 100%
NBA.com lists this example under their definition of Tweener:
"This word is derived from the word 'between', as in a player is between the height of a guard and a forward. 'Tweeners' often have the skills of a big man, but the height of a guard. Though only six foot five, Charles Barkley, a tweener, was one of the NBA's greatest rebounding power forwards."
Danny Woodhead is a tweener -- somewhere between RB and WR. He's definitely not football's Charles Barkley, but he has two things going for him that will endear him to Belichick and the Patriots: he's versatile and football savvy. In his short NFL career, Woodhead has played running back, wide receiver, kick returner and gunner on kick coverage. Last week, he flashed that versatility by racking up 63 rushing yards out of the backfield and catching five passes for 52 yards while lining up as a slot receiver. Fred Taylor is still injured, so there's an opportunity for Woodhead to build on his Week 6 breakout.
Jason Avant has been fairly productive as a number three receiver. For one week only, he'll get his chance as a number two. Avant's height has hampered his career development. This kid may be short, but he's got game and shouldn't be underestimated. The six-foot Avant was drafted in 2006 -- the same year another Philadelphia six-footer was wrapping up a career-high 33-points-per-game season. Avant is no Allen Iverson, but he might be The Answer for the DeSean Jackson-less Eagles on Sunday.MyFantasyLeague availability: 100%
Count me among those who thought Branch was washed up, but let me explain: this was a guy who never recorded a 1,000-yard season even in his prime. He's also never caught more than five touchdowns in any of his previous nine season. And since leaving New England, he's been a complete non-factor. I wanted nothing to do with him. Clearly, I forgot about chemistry. We saw this sort of thing with the Lakers just a few years ago -- some teammates just seem to bring out the best in each other. Kobe Bryant couldn't win the big one without Derek Fisher, Tom Brady couldn't win the big one without Branch. In his return to L.A., Fisher re-ignited the Lakers' dynasty. Maybe Branch's return will do the same for the Patriots.