Ron Dayne could be a huge steal if he plays a big role this Sunday.
It's Week 4 of the HoustonTexans.com Home Team Challenge, and I'm feeling good after taking home first place in the Texans Celebrity League after an outstanding Week 3. But since I didn't talk much when I fared worse the past two weeks, I won't talk much now (although I won't discourage you from reading this article that details my performance).
The best prize yet is on the line this week: a Texans football autographed by Texans stars such as Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Amobi Okoye and Dunta Robinson. And, as always, it's free to play! Here are my picks for the week:
SIGN ME UP RB Marion Barber III, DAL, 40 points (vs. STL): I'm not usually comfortable starting a running back who splits carries, but that's when I'm not dealing with veritable touchdown machines like Barber. His four rushing TDs through three games (plus one receiving TD) is tied for the league lead. His opponent, St. Louis, is one of the worst in the NFL against the run – 28th with 152.3 yards/game and tied for 31st with five TDs allowed. Barber's also a lot cheaper than other names ahead of him who've yet to live up to their fantasy billing this season. Sounds like paydirt to me.
TE Owen Daniels, HOU, 12 (@ ATL): He was good against Indianapolis and should only get better at Atlanta. Daniels' receptions each week have increased from one to five to seven, and with both Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones out this week, that number may increase yet again. Matt Schaub is throwing at a 75.9 percent completion rate, and he won't be lacking for motivation in his first return to the city where he served as a backup for three years. This could be a career day for Daniels, who has as good of a shot as any Texan of finding the end zone against a defense that's giving up more than three TDs per game.
NO THANKS QB Carson Palmer, CIN, 74 (vs. NE): The superstar QB is off to a typically great start, but the matchup dictates that you stop using him this week. Palmer and his Bengals do have the second-best pass offense in the league, but they literally meet their match on Sunday in a Patriots defense that is second best against the pass, allowing only 133 passing yards/game. To put that in perspective, nine teams give up more rushing yards per game than that total. Combine that with the fact that the Patriots are holding opponents to an average of 11.7 points, and I dare say that Palmer isn't worth the hefty price tag this week.
Alternatives: Tony Romo, DAL, 65 (vs. STL); Donovan McNabb, PHI, 63 (@NYG)
RB Adrian Peterson, MIN, 38 (vs. GB): The rookie phenom could come back down to earth a little bit this Sunday. Starter Chester Taylor may return from injury; if he does, the Vikings' official website reports that Vikings coach Brad Childress will put Taylor back into the starting lineup. Peterson is an undeniable playmaker and the best fantasy option Minnesota has, but if Taylor looks like he'll go in the coming days, I'm staying away from AD against the surprising Packers and their fifth-ranked defense.
Alternatives: Willis McGahee, BAL, 38 (@CLE); Marshawn Lynch, BUF, 34 (vs. NYJ)
KEEP AN EYE ON… RB Ron Dayne, HOU, 7 (@ATL): Why? Ahman Green did not practice on Thursday; afterward, head coach Gary Kubiak said "it'll be a bonus if he's ready to go on game day." Kubiak also said that a decision on Green will not be made until game time, but the situation is worth monitoring tomorrow to see if Green practices for the first time all week and then to make an educated trajectory.
But why is it worth the gamble? Dayne, the former Heisman Trophy winner, showed what he can do at the end of last season when he averaged 107 yards over his last four games. The Falcons' run D has been porous in 2007, ceding 142.3 yards/game, 26th in the league. And Kubiak has always been intent on establishing the run. Consider this quote from Schaub that came on Wednesday:
"We want to go in and establish the run. That's our main priority every game because if you can run the football, that sets up a lot of things you can do in the passing game, so that's something that we definitely want to do."
Why else? Just try putting Dayne into your lineup. Go ahead, just to see how it feels. When I replaced my second RB with Dayne, I got so many points in return that I was able to upgrade my other starters to Peyton Manning, LaDanian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates (the most expensive players at their respective positions) and two of top four WRs (whose names I won't divulge; I can't give away everything). That's downright ridiculous, and it shows what kind of value the big guy could have this week.