Pick Six Weekly: A down year for NFL and fantasy football?

Joey Baskerville

A little more than a week ago, Bomani Jones, a sports radio host I frequently listen to, wondered if this is a down year for the NFL.

The more I’ve watched this season, the more I’ve wondered the same thing. And I think it’s affected fantasy football.

We’re in a league where Kyle Orton is the NFL’s leading passer, Arian Foster (I’ve got some crow to eat in next portion of my column) is the leading rusher, and Brandon Lloyd and Austin Collie are second and third respectively in receiving yards.

Pittsburgh is 3-1 without its star quarterback, Kansas City is the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL and Arizona is first in the NFC West despite having a 2-2 team that does little well.

This is parity at its worst.

How has this affected fantasy football? How else do you explain Cleveland’s Peyton Hillis being a top-10 running back through four weeks and there being such a disparity between Foster and all other backs in terms of points so far?

And when there is a guy that could be consistent or (gasp) great, he’s stuck in a timeshare for whatever reason, robbing fantasy owners and football observers the chance of seeing someone up-and-coming do something great.

It’s not all gloom and doom. Quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers, backs Adrian Peterson and Rashard Mendenhall and receivers Reggie Wayne and Roddy White are playing up to or better than their expectations (don’t get me started on the crazy year tight end Antonio Gates is having), but plenty of players this year have been as unreliable as New Orleans receivers.

And consistency is the name of the game in fantasy football.

Eating crow, thanks to coaches

Last Sunday encapsulated not only why I was dead wrong for calling Foster a fantasy fraud earlier this year, but also exposed the real reason why there was any resentment to begin with.

Foster was benched by Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak in the first quarter at Oakland. Yet against all odds, Foster still managed to be productive (130 yards rushing, 56 yards receiving, two total TDs) despite adversity created by his own darn coach.

Kubiak benched and fined Foster for missing a team meeting and being late for another. This ranks up there with Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio’s decision to deactivate Mike Sims-Walker for missing bed check as one of the dumbest things I’ve heard.

And remember Week 15 last year? Foster had no chance to prove himself that week in a matchup against St. Louis because of one fumble. Foster got benched early and never returned to the game because of Kubiak’s decision. Now he’s the best running back in the league through four weeks.

Up until last Sunday night Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler was also going to be featured, but that offensive line and coordinator Mike Martz found ways to make me right about my concerns. Now Cutler is concussed, may not play this Sunday, and only makes you worry about the next time he gets hit.

I’m also still waiting for Green Bay’s Greg Jennings to prove he’s the elite No. 1 receiver I thought he was.

Pick Six: Waiver wire pickups

Former Buffalo Bills RB Marshawn Lynch finally got traded. He’s in Seattle now, so if you haven’t picked him up by now, do it before it’s too late.

QB: Detroit’s Shaun Hill (told ya), Philadelphia’s QB Kevin Kolb, Jacksonville’s David Garrard (it’s Buffalo)

RB: Oakland’s Michael Bush (Darren McFadden’s hamstring could sideline him), Washington’s Ryan Torain vs. Green Bay (Clinton Portis has groin injury)

WR: New England’s Danny Woodhead (really a RB, but listed as a wideout)

Honorable mention goes to Buffalo’s Fred Jackson, who could be the feature back now. Or not. I guess you can pick up NY Giants crybaby Brandon Jacobs (Ahmad Bradshaw’s ankle) too.

Pick Six: Week 5 scorers

The Bills don’t really play defense. Sure, they line up in defensive formations, have defensive players, but that’s not defense they’re playing. I’m not sure what to call it, but defense isn’t it.

Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew leads this week’s top six scorers. I’m sure he’s a better choice than last week’s duds (thanks a lot, Chris Johnson, Randy Moss and Frank Gore).

QB: Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning vs. Kansas City, San Diego’s Philip Rivers at Oakland

RB: Jones-Drew at Buffalo (ranks dead last vs. the run)

WR: Detroit’s Calvin Johnson vs. St. Louis, Atlanta’s Roddy White at Cleveland (if Terrell Owens can produce on Browns, why can’t White?)

TE: Antonio Gates at Oakland

The Purple Drank list — presented by the Bears O-line

QB: Tennessee’s Vince Young at Dallas, Kansas City’s Matt Cassel at Indy

RB: Chicago’s Matt Forte at Carolina, Packers Brandon Jackson at Washington

WR: Denver’s Brandon Lloyd (still not convinced) at Baltimore, Eagles DeSean Jackson at San Francisco

Don’t sleep on my sleepers

QB: David Garrard at Buffalo, St. Louis’ Sam Bradford at Detroit

RB: Arizona’s Beanie Wells vs. New Orleans, Bills Fred Jackson vs. Jacksonville

WR: Carolina’s Brandon LaFell vs. Chicago, Tennessee’s Kenny Britt at Dallas

Joey Baskerville writes his Pick Six Weekly column every Wednesday. He can be reached at or @jmark79 on Twitter.