By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
Read full column on Ohio.com
Sometimes, things just don’t go your way.
Players have bad days. Farmers’ crops don’t yield much. Students fail tests. It happens.
If you listened to me and benched Gary Barnidge last week, I apologize. Apparently, the worst position matchup couldn’t keep him from again doing Gary Barnidge things, like making catches with his backside and inner thighs. How many Gary Barnidges does it take for the Browns to finish with a winning record? The world might never know.
If you still haven’t picked him up (he’s owned in only 37.7 percent of ESPN leagues), what are you waiting for? The butt catch alone should convince you to add him.
We’ve reached that point in the season when most rosters are pretty much set. Save for a catastrophic injury or two (looking at you, Jamaal Charles owners), you know who your key contributors are, and it’s just a matter of filling in the gaps with good matchups.
Due to this reality, I’m swapping a drop for an additional add this week. That’s right — you get a bonus add. Rejoice!
Josh McCown, quarterback, Cleveland Browns (owned in 4.3 percent of ESPN leagues)
I never thought I’d write this.
McCown had a nightmarish 2014 season in Tampa Bay, so bad that when the Browns threw years and millions at him in the offseason, I’m sure plenty of Cleveland fans reached for the Tums.
His start to the regular season was so very Cleveland of him. A dive into the end zone ended with him getting hit from both sides, sending him spinning in midair like a helicopter (reminiscent of John Elway in Super Bowl XXXII), fumbling and leaving with a concussion. Pretty much par for the course for Browns quarterbacks.
But surprisingly, he rebounded quite well. McCown lost his first two starts, but posted impressive statistics in the defeats. He took that one step further against the Baltimore Ravens, setting the franchise’s single-game passing yards record in the process.
I’ll never bet my life, my financial future, or my pride on the Browns’ quarterback situation. But McCown’s play has been encouraging thus far, and it’s hard to argue with his weekly numbers.
Jay Cutler, quarterback, Chicago Bears (owned in 19.1 percent of ESPN leagues)
I also never thought I’d put Cutler back in here in 2015. But I guess crazier things (McCown, Josh) really have happened.
Expectations (and two former teammates) gone for greener pastures, Cutler took the field under much less pressure, and it’s shown in his play. The quarterback known by the Internet as Smokin’ Jay has thrown for more than 500 yards combined in the last two weeks, successfully depositing the ball in the end zone four times during that stretch. It’s resulted in two wins, and suddenly the Bears aren’t so much of a pushover.
Cutler had two huge weapons in Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall last season. Marshall is now a Jet, and Jeffrey is struggling to stay healthy. Despite all of this, Cutler continues to sling it. If you dropped him earlier (as I had advised, seeing as he was injured), make up for it by welcoming him back to your bench with open arms.
Willie Snead, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints (owned in 29.2 percent of ESPN leagues)
The Saints are not having a fun time in 2015.
Drew Brees is struggling, the defense can’t stop much of anything, and there are rumors that teams will try to lure head coach Sean Payton out of town.
But for those of you who are fans of #MACtion, you’ll recognize Snead’s name. Young Man Willie (I just made that up), owner of a plethora of Ball State receiving records, has been targeted the most in the Saints’ receiving corps. Now, as we covered above, at 1-4, the Saints aren’t good. But Snead (22 catches, 381 yards, one touchdown) was targeted 11 times in the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, bringing his season total to 33. If Brees continues to look his way, he could be the silver lining in this otherwise ugly season.
Antonio Gates, tight end, San Diego Chargers (owned in 88.6 percent of ESPN leagues)
Gates was likely only available in your league because of his four-game suspension for PEDs. Apparently, 88.6 percent of owners still found him to be valuable enough to stash him on their bench. In his first game back, he proved them right, catching nine passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns.
Need I say more? Grab the former Kent State Golden Flash.
Ameer Abdullah, running back, Detroit Lions (owned in 89.6 percent of ESPN leagues)
After a quick start to the season, Abdullah has fallen off the proverbial cliff.
The rookie running back out of Nebraska fumbled twice in Sunday’s loss before being benched for Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner (yikes!). Add in Matthew Stafford’s four-interception outing, and things are uglier in Detroit than it was for the Big Three automakers in 2008.
Stafford was also benched for Dan Orlovsky, aka the guy who once ran out of the back of the end zone while scrambling away from pressure. See what I mean by ugly?
Abdullah will see more carries again at some point, but there’s no reason to try to rely on any player on the Lions’ offense right now.
Jamaal Charles, running back, Kansas City Chiefs
Charles tore his ACL in a gruesome, non-contact injury on Sunday. He’s done for the season, and I hope you didn’t pin your fantasy hopes and dreams on his health. If so, fill Charles’ roster spot with a new running back (Charles Sims?), quickly.