Each week, TSN.ca Fantasy Editor Scott Cullen and NFL Editors Ben Fisher and Mitch Ward discuss three hot fantasy football topics.
1) Considering their surprising starts, who do you think will be more productive the rest of the way, Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick?
Cullen: I like Smith's increasing fantasy value -- seven touchdown passes in four games will do that -- but I couldn't choose him over Kaepernick because the ceiling with Kaepernick is so much higher. Smith is the safer play and the Chiefs are asking him (or allowing him) to do more than he did in San Francisco, but Smith has thrown for 300 yards in a game three times in 79 career starts. Kaepernick has only done it once (Week One this season), but has started only 11 games. I guess I'm still on the side of potential.
Fisher: I'm sticking with Kaepernick. Through the first quarter of the season Smith has far outplayed his 49ers replacement in leading the Chiefs to a 4-0 record. But Kansas City won't stay perfect all season and as the team regresses back to the pack so should Smith's production. Conversely, the 49ers are better than a .500 team so as they climb the standings Kaepernick should likewise climb the fantasy rankings. That said, I could see both finishing the year as borderline QB1s.
Ward: I'm going to give the edge to Kaepernick, but it's close. Smith has been consistently efficient through four weeks with seven touchdown passes against two interceptions. He should easily shatter his previous high of 17 touchdown passes in a season set in 2009. That being said, Smith is limited by his lack of arm strength and the absence of a vertical passing game in Kansas City. Kaepernick meanwhile is just a more dynamic player with the capability of putting up the real big games, Remember what he did to Green Bay in last year's playoffs? Smith isn't capable of that kind of game. Smith will likely be more consistently solid, but the chance to go off on and given Sunday makes Kaepernick more desirable in my eyes.
2) Which running backs involved in a time share are worth starting week to week?
Cullen: Particularly now that we've hit the point in the season in which bye weeks come into play, a lot of running backs that share time have to be considered. With C.J. Spiller struggling, Fred Jackson has to be considered. Knowshon Moreno, Giovani Bernard, Danny Woodhead and Darren Sproles would be others that I would go with each week. I'd be okay with Ryan Mathews and Pierre Thomas (Woodhead and Sproles' backfield mates) too, because they get more touches, but their production hasn't been great so far this season.
Fisher: There are a couple teams around the league that have two running backs worth consideration for a starting spot. Fred Jackson has been a near Top 10 back through the first quarter of the season and is worth a starting even when C.J. Spiller is fully healthy. Sticking in the AFC East, Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount in New England could both find themselves in starting lineups if teams get desperate. And with the Broncos' high-powered offence, any of Denver's three RBs could be worth a start. And while it's not exactly a true time share in Detroit, the Lions have two Top 10 backs through four games in Reggie Bush and Joique Bell.
Ward: Giovani Bernard in Cincinnati. He's currently in a timeshare with BenJarvus Green-Ellis but is slowly but surely demanding a bigger and bigger share of the touches. He is simply a better back in pretty much every facet of the game and does more with his opportunities. Green-Ellis currently has 54 touches on the year to Bernard's 44, but it's Bernard who has picked up 118 more yards. By the end of the season this won't be a timeshare anymore, it will be Bernard's backfield and Green-Ellis will only be used for spot duty. Lamar Miller, who shares the Dolphins backfield with Daniel Thomas is another weekly start at this point. He is starting to distance himself from Thomas and should get more and more of the touches as the season goes on. I also really like Darren Sproles in New Orleans, especially in PPR leagues.
3) Has Bilal Powell proven himself to be a solid bet as an RB2 moving forward?
Cullen: I say yes. His 400 yards from scrimmage ranks seventh among running backs right now -- ahead of Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster and Doug Martin -- and while he's not likely to continue ahead of those guys and he only has one touchdown, Powell has to be considered a candidate for an RB2 spot, particularly through the bye weeks that have more than a couple teams off. As long as he remains productive, he's also doing enough to hold off any potential challenges for playing time from Chris Ivory (now hurt) and Mike Goodson.
Fisher: Powell spent an inordinate amount of time on the waiver wire for a back ranking in the top 15 of his position in most formats. I don't expect Powell to finish the season that high in the rankings – there is too much inconsistency on the Jets' offence and too many better backs behind Powell in the rankings that should eventually find their game and surpass him – but with no real competition in the Jets' backfield, it wouldn't be surprising to see the 24-year-old stick as an RB2 all season long.
Ward: I had my doubts about his abilities coming into the season, but he's made me a believer. Through four weeks he is averaging a solid 4.4 yards per carry and getting nearly 20 touches per game. While I don't have him on any teams this year, I'd be comfortable rolling him out there every week as an RB2.