Archive for November, 2009

And the Award Goes to…

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

In the Huddle

By Mark Sheldon

Cue the drum roll, the video montage and the acceptance speeches. Ladies and gentlemen, the fat lady has sung and the “half-season” awards are in…

MVP: Peyton Manning With apologies to: Maurice Jones-Drew

Least Valuable draft pick: Ladanian Tomlinson With apologies to: Steve Slaton
Best QB: Peyton Manning With apologies to: Matt Schaub

Disappointing QB: Donovan McNabb With apologies to: Matt Hasselbeck

Best RB: Maurice Jones-Drew With apologies to: Adrian Peterson

Disappointing RB: Ladanian Tomlinson With apologies to: Steve Slaton

Best WR: Reggie Wayne With apologies to: Andre Johnson

Disappointing WR: Steve Smtih (CAR) With apologies to: Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson

Best TE: Dallas Clark With Apologies to: Vernon Davis

Disappoiting TE: Jason Witten With apologies to: his owners

Best K: David Akers

Disappointing K: Adam Vinatieri

Best DEF: New Orleans Saints With apologies to: Cinicnatti Bengals

Disappointing DEF: Tennessee Titans

Best IDP: Patrick Willis With apologies to: James Harrison

Dissapointing IDP: Brian Urlacher With apologies to: DeMarcus Ware

Biggest Surprise: Miles Austin With apologies to: Steve Smith (NYG)

Biggest Sleeper: Brett Favre With apologies to: Matt Schaub

Best stat line: Chris Johnson Week 2 (16-197, 9-87, 3 TD’s)Worst stat line: Steve Slaton Week 8 (1-1, 2-10, 1 lost fumble)

Biggest comeback: Chad Ochocinco

Time to hang em up: Larry Johnson

Worst tweet: Larry Johnson

Shortest career: Larry Johnson

Best Waiver Wire pickup: Miles Austin With apologies to: Rashard Mendenhall

Best brother: Peyton Manning With apologies to: Eli Manning

The better Steve Smith: Steve Smith (NYG) With apologies to: Steve Smith (CAR)

My favourite Sunday snack: Nachos

Most likely to have a big second half: Greg Jennings With apologies to: Marshawn Lynch

Um, this hasn’t worked: Terrell Owens With apologies to: TJ Housmandzadeh

But this has: Cedric Benson With apologies to: Brett Favre

My favourite colour: blue With apologies to: Off-white

Impressive debut: Michael Crabtree

WR’s that made noise: Sidney Rice, Mike Sims-Walker and Nate Burleson

RB’s that made noise: Ray Rice, Ricky Williams and Rashard Mendenhall

QB’s that made noise: Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub and Kyle Orton

From obscurity to household name, back to obscurity: Mario Manningham

My favourite celebrity: Chet from The Real World

Most underrated: Joe Flacco

Most overrated: Calvin Johnson

We aren’t actually top-tier RB’s: Pierre Thomas, Steve Slaton, Matt Forte, Ladanian Tomlinson and Clinton Portis

We actually are top-tier RB’s: Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Ray Rice and Thomas Jones

My favourite position: WR…get your mind out of the gutter.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the fantasy world…

Waiver Wire: 

Percentages listed are in ESPN/Yahoo! standard leagues and reflects how many teams own the players.

At the halfway mark, some key players who have been mentioned in this section: Rashard Mendenhall, Mario Manningham, Brent Celek, Mike Sims-Walker, Vernon Davis, Sidney Rice, Beanie Wells and Jamal Charles.

1. Ladell Betts RB (ESPN 3%) Washington Redskins: Betts is a nice play this week with the injury to Clinton Portis. Yes, Portis is number 1, but the Redskins run the ball lots and Betts is sure to see many touches this week. After replacing the injured Portis last week, Betts rushed for 70 YDS on 15 carries and scored a TD. Also, the Broncos DEF has given up 324 total yards to opposing RB’s the last 2 weeks.

2. Devery Henderson WR (ESPN 41%) New Orleans Saints: The batter – Brees is starting to target more people in the passing game. The cake – Over the last 3 weeks, Henderson has put up decent numbers: 11-210. The icing – they play the St. Louis Rams this week.

3. Mark Sanchez QB (Yahoo! 47%) New York Jets: Since his 5 INT game versus the Buffalo Bills 3 weeks ago, Sanchez has thrown for 408 YDS, has 5 TD’s and has not turned the ball over once. He is playing a Jacksonville DEF that ranks 28th in INT’s and 32nd in Sacks. With Eli Manning and Matt Schaub on bye weeks, Sanchez is a legit plug-in.

4. Pierre Garcon WR (Yahoo 60%) Indianapolis Colts: This is based purely on the fact that Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie are out. Enter Garcon, who is going to get a lot of looks while Bill Belichick schemes to keep Reggie Wayne under control. There is a slight chance Garcon has a big week. 

Weekly Matchups:

1. Tom Brady QB New England Patriots vs Indianapolis Colts DEF: This match up Sunday features the top 2 QB’s of this decade, and I think Brady puts up the better numbers. The Colts secondary is hurting as CB’s Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden are out, as well as S Bob Sanders. Brady has put up 300+ YDS in 3 staright games. While many may be looking at this as the week to sit Brady, don’t buy into it. If healthy, go ahead and start him. 27-40, 280 YDS, 2 TD’s.

2. Antonio Gates TE San Diego Chargers vs Philadelphia Eagles DEF: Gates has continued his solid play this season and looks to benefit from the Eagles stellar DEF. The Eagles are second in the league in sacks and INT’s which means Rivers should be looking to get some quick passes into his TE. Gates is coming off a 5 REC, 67 YD game last week where he dropped two catchable passes late in the game which would have put him over the 100 YD marker. 6 REC, 92 YDS, 1 TD.

3. Sidney Rice WR Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions DEF: In Week 2, the Vikes beat the Lions 27-13 and it was quite fitting of where the season was heading. The Lions have the 26th ranked Defense and the Vikes are tied for 4th in TD passes. Meanwhile, Rice has an average of 73.1 YDS/game and has 20 REC and 352 YDS in the last 3 games. 6 REC, 106 YDS, 1 TD.

4. Nate Burleson WR Seattle Seahawks vs Arizona Cardinals DEF: The Cards come into the game giving up 247 YDS passing per game and Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck threw 52 times last week, with Burleson getting 9 targets. After TJ Housmandzadeh’s sideline outburst last week, you almost have to take a chance on Nate. 6 REC, 87 YDs, 1 TD.

5. Ryan Grant RB Green Bay Packers vs Dallas Cowboys DEF: Welcome to the life of mediocrity that is Ryan Grant. The only reason he has been respectable thus far is because he has faced 4 embarrassments (Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland and Tamp Bay) in only 8 games. I could put up 100 YDS on those teams. This week he’s going against a Dallas DEF that ranks 12th in the league against the run. Bench him if you can. 16 REC, 66 YDS.

6. Matt Cassell QB Kansas City Chiefs vs Oakland Raiders DEF: The rivalry continues this week in Oakland, except no one cares. These cellar dwellers will look to come out strong after their bye weeks. Gone is Larry Johnson and in is Chris Chambers. This bodes well for Cassell, who will now have Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers and Jamal Charles (out of the backfield). With Eli Manning and Matt Schaub on their bye week, Cassell is a nice plug-in. 23-33, 261 YDS, 1 TD.

7. Frank Gore RB San Francisco 49ers vs Chicago Bears DEF: Mike Singletary goes up against his former team this weekend and he and will bring the same style of play with him in the form of Gore. Look for the 49ers to pound the ball against a Chicago DEF that has had trouble against the run all season (*cough* Brian Urlacher). Over the last 4 games, Daaaaa Bears have given up an average of 145 rushing YDS. If they stay in the game late, look for Gore to come close to 25 touches. 23 CAR, 110 YDS, 2 TD.

8. Marshawn Lynch RB vs Tennessee Titans DEF: As stated above, I think Lynch is going to come out strong in the second half. He missed the first 3 games due to suspension and since his return he’s seen his QB’s flip-flop. Trent Edwards is back (not even sure if that’s a good thing at this point) and Lynch is going to get the bulk of the workload against a Titans DEF giving up 112 YDS per game on the ground. On top of that, Fred Jackson has just 12 carries in the last 2 games and the ball is in Lynch’s hands. Beast Mode indeed. 17 CAR, 88 YDS, 1 TD.

9. Tony Romo QB Dallas Cowboys vs Green Bay Packers DEF: Warning!! The rollercoaster ride that is Tony Romo’s fantasy career looks to be heading downhill this week. In his last 4 games he’s been untouchable, but never in his career has he put together this good of stretch. The Packs DEF gives up a paltry 186 YDS per game through the air; the hot and cold Romo turns ice this weekend. 20-36, 222 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT.

10. Brandon Marshall WR vs Washington Redskins DEF: This is a tough one. How do you really bench someone coming off of an 11 REC performance? You can’t, can you? Well, Washington is the top ranked pass defense in the NFL. They are giving up 159.9 YDS on a weekly basis, which is incredible considering how bad they’ve played. However, they are giving up more than 4.0 YDS per carry and if Knowshon Moreno can make things happen, Marshall owners will benefit greatly. Still, this might be a good time to swing a “sell-high” trade. 5 REC, 61 YDS.

Projected Player Rankings: Week 10

QB:

1. Drew Brees

2. Aaron Rodgers

3. Kurt Warner

4. Tom Brady

5. Peyton Manning

6. Philip Rivers

7. Brett Favre

8. Ben Roethlisberger

9. Joe Flacco

10. Matt Ryan

11. Tony Romo

12. Donovan McNabb

13. Alex Smith

14. Matt Hasselbeck

15. Jay Cutler

16. Carson Palmer

17. Mark Sanchez

18. Matt Cassell

19. David Garrard

20. Chad Henne

RB:

1. Adrian Peterson

2. Chris Johnson

3. Michael Turner

4. Maurice Jones-Drew

5. Ronnie Brown

6. Frank Gore

7. Thomas Jones

8. DeAngelo Williams

9. Steven Jackson

10. Cedric Benson

11. Rashard Mendenhall

12. Pierre Thomas

13. Joseph Addai

14. Ricky Williams

15. Marion Barber

16. Marshawn Lynch

17. Matt Forte

18. Brian Westbrook

19. Ryan grant

20. Jonathon Stewart

WR:1. Larry Fitzgerald

2. Randy Moss

3. Reggie Wayne

4. Roddy White

5. Vincent Jackson

6. Marques Colston

7. DeSean Jackson

8. Chad Ochocinco

9. Anquan Boldin

10. Wes Welker

11. Miles Austin

12. Sidney Rice

13. Calvin Johnson

14. Greg Jennings

15. Donald Driver

16. Hines Ward

17. Derrick Mason

18. Nate Burleson

19. Dwayne Bowe

20. Steve Smith (CAR)

TE:1. Dallas Clark

2. Vernon Davis

3. Brent Celek

4. Antonio Gates

5. Tony Gonzalez

6. Visanthe Shiancoe

7. Jeremy Shockey

8. Jason Witten

9. Greg Olsen

10. Heath Miller

11. Zach Miller

12. John Carlson

13. Dustin Keller

14. Kellen Winslow

15. Ben Watson

DEF:

1. New Orleans Saints

2. Minnesota Vikings

3. Baltimore Ravens

4. Miami Dolphins

5. Denver Broncos

6. San Francisco 49ers

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

8. Philadelphia Eagles

9. Arizona Cardinals

10. Green Bay Packers

11. New York Jets

12. Atlanta Falcons

13. Dallas Cowboys

14. Tennessee Titans

15. Cincinnati Bengals

 

By Josh Gold-Smith

As Phil Kessel makes his much ballyhooed return to the ice in a new uniform, it’s time for us to dive back into the fantasy hockey realm ourselves.

In the last hockey entry, we promised to devote a full column to the waiver wire, so let’s do just that. Yes, Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin are out with week-to-week injuries, but we’ll examine that in the days to come. The art of adding and dropping is a delicate one. Injuries and early season slumps from typically consistent fantasy performers make waiver decisions difficult, but that’s where we come in. You’ve almost certainly made a few impactful moves already, but here are some of the players you need to grab (or be aware of) going forward:

Eric Belanger, C, Minnesota Wild (10% owned by Yahoo owners, 4.3% on ESPN)

What does a no-name center have to do to get some fantasy love? Belanger doesn’t jump off the page, but his production has been as consistent as it gets for waiver wire fodder at this early a juncture in the season. Sure, he was forced to leave Saturday night’s contest after taking a high-stick to the face with under two minutes to play, but there has been no indication that he’ll miss any time. The 31-year old has registered 12 points in the first 14 games (4 G, 8 A) with a goal and three assists coming on the powerplay. Players like Belanger emerge in the first few weeks of every fantasy season but there are a couple of reasons to buy into him. The first one is something we’ve talked about at length in this space, and that is the fact that head coach Todd Richards is not Jacques Lemaire, and the new system is going to take some time to implement. The Wild are 25th in goals for average (with a paltry 2.12 per game) but despite the team’s struggles, Belanger is tied with Mikko Koivu for the team lead in points. If you’re patient with Belanger and the team around him, they will begin to produce and you will reap the rewards. The second reason is the opportunity available to him. The Wild are thin up front, so Belanger will continue to 1) see considerable powerplay time and 2) skate in the top six for the foreseable future.

James van Riemsdyk, LW, Philadelphia Flyers (25% in Yahoo formats, 64% on ESPN)

In the first 10 games of the van Riemsdyk’s NHL career, the 20-year old American has two goals and an impressive 11 assists. Of course, it helps that he is being grouped with Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux in various forms. Like Belanger, JvR is destined to remain in the top six, especially if he keeps up this pace. The only problem so far has been his limited PP time, but that should increase as his NHL experience grows. Rookies are generally frowned upon in fantasy hockey, but a few rare exceptions are worth monitoring and he is one of them. He’s a must-add in deep (12-14 team) leagues and a watch list add in shallow formats.

Tomas Plekanec, C, Montreal Canadiens (38% rostered in Yahoo leagues, 25% on ESPN)

How easy is it to forget a 70-point season? The answer to that question lies in Tomas Plekanec’s ownership in the fantasy world. Alright, it was 69 points (29 goals and 40 assists) but it came just two seasons ago. During that productive ’07-’08 campaign, the 27-year old Czech forward registered a solid 25 powerplay points. This is a player who has suited up for 80 or more games in each of the past three seasons. He celebrated his birthday on Halloween night with a couple of assists against the Toronto Maple Leafs and it should be noted that 5 of his 13 points have been tallied with the man advantage. He’s a borderline add in shallow leagues and a solid buy in anything deeper than a 10-team format.

Matt Moulson, LW, New York Islanders (45% in Yahoo leagues, 51% on ESPN)

He’s still out there in about half of all fantasy leagues, folks. The young but incredibly talented top line on Long Island (Moulson-John Tavares-Kyle Okposo) has been more productive than anyone expected with a combined three years of NHL experience between the three of them. Moulson is tied with Tavares for the team lead in points (11) and has 2 goals and 3 assists on the powerplay. He is in his third year of NHL hockey but played just 29 games in the first two years. As long as Moulson is teamed with the gifted Tavares and talented Okposo on a consistenly productive first line, expect legitimate numbers from him.

James Wisniewski, D, Anaheim Ducks (20% on Yahoo, 19% on ESPN)

Sure, the 25-year old American-born defenseman is serving a two-game suspension for that thunderous but illegal hit on Shane Doan, but look at the bigger picture. He’ll miss tonight’s tilt with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Thursday night’s jaunt with the Nashville Predators, but is expected to return for Saturday night’s home affair with the Phoenix Coyotes. Why should you care? Because the former Chicago Blackhawk has very quietly put up 20 points in 26 games since arriving in Anaheim in the Samuel Pahlsson deal last season. That includes 9 points in 9 games in 2009-10 (all assists), and although only 2 have come in powerplay situations, being paired with Ryan Whitney and at times Scott Niedermayer will be enough to make him roster-worthy.

Andrew Raycroft, G, Vancouver Canucks (15% on Yahoo, 4% on ESPN)

Okay, settle down. Let me preface this by saying Raycroft is worth a short-term look in deep leagues if you have goaltending issues. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, why would I recommend the former Maple Leafs’ scapegoat for fantasy consideration? It’s just for a week, people. No one is suggesting adding Raycroft in shallow leagues or expecting anything in the long-term. As pointed out by Iain MacIntyre in that Vancouver Sun piece you just clicked on, Robert Luongo is a notoriously slow starter and is prone to lulls when returning from injury (see: last season). Of course, Luongo’s broken rib is reportedly on the mend and it is certainly possible that he’ll return at some point during the Canucks’ upcoming five-game road trip. The captain will join the team on the road after tonight’s game against the New York Rangers, but it means Raycroft will get at least three more starts (and possibly more, either in mop-up duty if and when Luongo returns or while they remain cautious with their star netminder). What has Raycroft done since being given the opportunity to step in? He’s 2-1-0 with a sparkling .932 SV% and 1.66 GAA in three games against three reasonably skilled offenses (Los Angeles, Anaheim, Colorado) including a shutout of the Avalanche on Sunday night. Don’t do anything rash here, just keep an eye on the situation and pick him up if you need immediate short-term help on the back end. If you’ll excuse me, I need a cold shower now.

So there you have it. Next time we’ll take a closer look at the Ovechkin and Malkin injuries, Kessel’s fortunes as a Maple Leaf and much more. Thanks for checking in and remember: don’t get caught with your head down (in fantasy and real life).

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