Archive for September, 2010

Sunday Driving: Week 3

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

3rd & Short – Sunday Night Knowledge

1st Half

- Players must know they’re really good when Cris Collinsworth takes a full minute to list their talents and doesn’t really finish his thought before moving on to the

- The player I noticed Collinsworth talking about wasn’t Dustin Keller, even though it should have been.  In fact, nothing else should be written about the first half of tonight’s game unless it’s about Dustin Keller.

- At halftime, Keller has 6 catches for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns.  That’s 5 more catches than any Jets’ receiver and he’s been targeted 6 more times than any Jets’ receiver.  Oh, and he has two more touchdowns than any Jets’ receiver.

-  Keller didn’t get a DUI and didn’t have to sit the first quarter as a result.  Braylon Edwards did, but it probably had a minimal influence (no pun intended) on Keller’s first half totals.  Let’s see what Keller will do in the second half…

2nd Half

- Please don’t blame the first part of this blog for Dustin Keller’s drastic increase in ownership.  Heading into Sunday he was only available in about 1/3 of leagues.  The truth is, he’s likely going to lead the team in targets for a second straight week, and he has 3 scores in 2 games.  Defences will likely adjust, but before they can it appears Keller will have leap-frogged Brent Celek and Kellen Winslow and will have himself on the fringe of becoming a top tier tight end.  Let’s move on…

- Brandon Marshall is very good at football.  He’s proved it on several occasions tonight, and has also proved that the Dolphins should no longer design plays, like the ones we saw in the first half, that leave Marshall alone to face a gang of linebackers and linemen.

- All in favour of not calling it ‘redemption’ when a player gets in trouble with the law and then catches a touchdown pass in the next game say ‘I’.  I.

-  Nice punt block by Eric Smith.  He’ll be hosting tomorrow morning from 9 to 12.

- When a holding call costs Mark Sanchez his 4th touchdown of the night, he has to enter the fantasy discussion.  His chemistry with Keller is obviously solid – though I didn’t want to bring Keller up.  I think the Jets’ will continue with their commitment to the run and I’m still not sold on Braylon Edwards.  That said, I don’t mind starting Sanchez as a QB1 in 14 team leagues.  Anything to add Ines?  Didn’t want to bring that up either.

- A good Rex Ryan challenge saves Sanchez from being hexed by the point above, but you have to take into account how Sanchez didn’t look great on what was a crucial drive for New York (just the Jets, not the city).  He’s running an offence that’s built for him to succeed, but there will always be situations that will take him out of his comfort zone.

- More confusion regarding Miami’s play-calling:  why do they insist on emptying the backfield?  Chad Henne is growing as a quarterback but he hasn’t matured that much has he?  I just got a text regarding how awful some of Henne’s throws have looked.

- Very nice of Mr. Tomlinson (Al Michaels says you can’t call him LT in New York) to set the bar high for Brandon Jackson tomorrow night.  I’m of course referring to The Coin Toss below where I advised to start the Jets’ back in Jackson’s stead.  Tomlinson finished with 88 yards from scrimmage and a score.

I understand that Brandon Marshall was probably quintuple-covered but Henne’s forced toss to Anthony Fasano was a fitting end to this one (and good evidence to support the claims already listed).  Wait, Rex Ryan provides an even more fitting end by botching Jason Taylor’s Gatorade Bath.  I don’t want to botch this ending so I’ll leave you with this:  I fell to 0-2-1 in THE FAN League today so I can’t wait to analyze my lineup more than 50 times in the coming week!  Yes!

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2nd & 5 — 4 O’clock Focus

QB

- Peyton Manning must hate playing at 4 o’clock, but his name doesn’t stay off the Top Perfomers list for long.  Philip Rivers is used to playing at 4, and he’s used to joining the big names near the top of the stats sheet like he did today.

- Michael Vick is now a must-play until he proves otherwise.

- Derek Anderson and Bruce Gradkowski would only be OK plays even if they always played each other.

- Cudos to Sam Bradford on his first victory – don’t write a whole bunch into it.

- Kyle Orton attempted 57 passes and still only had one touchdown; don’t go expecting 476 yards every week.

RB (this section will remain Chris-Johnson-free unless he reaches 200 rush yards/3 scores

- Laurence Maroney is obviously too young to have seen those Head and Shoulders commercials that would have taught him “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.  He failed to convert on 3 tries from inside the 1.  Don’t look at any of the rushing totals coming out of Denver unless you’re near a bucket.

- Stephen Jackson found the endzone!  Stephen Jackson found the endzone!  Sorry, felt that needed a higher level of excitement since it’s becoming a rare occurence.

- It’s possible Mike Shanahan never stopped liking Ryan Torain.  He’s got him back in the backfield in Washington and while it’s only St. Louis that Torain is doing damage against, the fact that the former Bronco is getting the chances makes this a situation worth monitoring.

- Mr. Hightower, your cameo in Arizona’s backfield has come to an end.  Mr. Wells is here to attempt to regain the faith of his owners.  The timing couldn’t be better for Beanie, as it looks like Ken Whisenhunt is turning to a more balanced attack.

- We thought Michael Bush’s return would end Darren McFadden’s impressive run.  The Raiders only handed Bush the ball 3 times to McFadden’s 25…and Darren ran into triple digits again.

- A large bulk of the carries is a great sign for Justin Forsett owners, so is his continued involvement in the passing game.  His only threat is Leon Washington, ***spoiler alert*** who will be this week’s special teams player of the week thanks to two return TDs, and as long as he’s returning Forsett should be safe.

WR

- Let’s get this out of the way immediately,  I was wrong to doubt that Jeremy Maclin would see enough of the early pie in Jacksonville.  He’s gotten two slices of Touchdown Meringue and it’s only the 3rd quarter.  DeSean Jackson got the other and he’s in triple digits.

- Blair White?  Touchdown catch?  Yes and yes.  Only a fill-in for Pierre Garcon?  Yes.  Austin Collie has reached double digit catches for the 2nd time this season?  Yes.  And Collie has more than one score?  Yes.

- The PIP keeps showing me a revived Brandon Lloyd.  5/162/1 before the 3rd quarter is out, looks like the 8th year pro is calling back his 49er days.  Eddie Royal has taken a backseat even though he was supposed to prosper against the Colts’ defensive scheme.

- Malcolm Floyd owners have to be sick of seeing him lose battles for the ball.  Never mind he just caught a touchdown.

- Louis Murphy is the only Raiders receiver I would own.

TE

- Sure, Zach Miller, haul in a touchdown the week you’re on my opponent’s squad. John Carlson, you can catch a touchdown and lead Seattle in receiving for most of the game, because that’s expected.

Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- If I’m upset to the point of several verbal outburrsts when poor clock management costs me fantasy points, then how must an NFL head coach feel?

-  Strange that Ryan Fabro only texts you back once he’s gone up 20 points.  Actually that’s not surprising at all…

Banged up

- Ray Rice Update:  After leaving with a knee sprain in the 4th, there are whispers of a Monday MRI.  Willis McGahee is the add

- Jahvid Best Update:  A toe injury against Minnesota may affect his status next week.  Mo Morris could see an uptick there but he’ll get the Packers’ D.

- As if he needed it, a first-half groin injury could also prevent Stephen Jackson from finding the endzone again for a while.  Last time we heard, Dick Stockton was telling us Jackson was questionable to see the field in the second half.  Kenneth Darby grabbed the touchdown in his absence – he’d be your handcuff.

Sebastian Janikowski obviously felt bad for Garrett Hartley and nominated himself for goat of the day honours.  I don’t feel bad for SeaBass either (the slo-pitch wounds still haven’t healed).  I’ll tell you what though, if these 4 o’clock games keep finishing near 8 o’clock, I may have to push “Sunday Night Knowledge” back to Monday mornings some weeks.  This week is not one of those weeks…

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1st & 9 — 1 O’clock Thoughts

QB

- Business as usual for Brees, Romo and Brady.

- Business as unusual for Charlie Batch and Matt Cassel.  Each had 3 TDs, obviously Cassel’s the only one worth having a look at as he gets Indy’s Cover 2 after a bye next week (Batch gets Baltimore in his last start of the season).

- Baltimore put it on Joe Flacco to right himself in the dog pound, and he took advantage with a 3-score afternoon (of course it came at the expense of Ray Rice – 80 total yards w/o finding the painted grass).

- Alex Smith had the day I expected at Arrowhead.  The value of his receivers was harmed in the process (despite Josh Morgan’s garbage time score).  The Chiefs’ D should at least be considered for good home matchups.

- Matt Schaub pulled the parachute on his fall from grace in the form of a late (and cheap) touchdown to Kevin Walter.

- Jimmy Claussen’s debut reads 16/133 for 188 with 1 pick.  He targeted Steve Smith 5 times for 3 catches and checked down a lot.

RB (this section will remain Chris-Johnson-free unless he reaches 200 rush yards/3 scores

- Adrian Peterson faced Detroit…and did what he was supposed to do…which is good.

- Jamaal Charles carried 12 times for 97 yards…and Thomas Jones still got 19 carries and the touchdown…which is reeedickulous.

- To make matters worse for the Dallas backfield, they only totalled 19 carries for the second straight week.  Marion Barber had a score so that’s good I guess…

- Peyton Hillis, Rashard Mendenhall and  Michael Turner took us back to yesteryear and showed what running backs can do with a full workload.  All went over 100 yards and scored at least once.

- Benjarvus Green-Ellis outworked the rest of the Pats backfield by 10 totes.  That could change next week, but enjoy the 98 yards and the touchdown for this week.

- Ahmad Bradshaw is the #1 running back in New York…no more questions.

WR

- ANQUAN BOLDIN!

- Believe it or not, Roy Williams had a multi-touchdown game last season too!  Don’t get too excited though, it was his only one.

- A frustrating fact for Marques Colston owners:  In the 3rd quarter he’s first on the team in targets with 4, but he’s tied with 2 other dudes and there are 3 others tied for second with 3 targets each.  Aaargh!

- Sticking with the Saints, it appears Lance Moore is pulling a Kardashian (ie. enjoying life without Reggie Bush).  His final line was gross (6/149/2).

- Mike Wallace didn’t feel like waiting for Ben Roethlisberger – 2 scores in Week 3, 3 weeks earlier than many expected he’d have a big day.

- How focussed is contract-less Randy Moss.  He’s 2 touchdowns on 2 catches focussed.

TE

- A battle of veteran tight ends in the Bayou.  Tony G (8/110/1) def. Shockey (8/78/1).

- Ben Watson wants to be fantasy relevant again (5/47/1), but I’d wait and see if he’s consistent once Delhomme gets back behind centre.

- Not sure what Tony Scheffler said to Shaun Hill during the week, but he has to be happy with 7/60/1.

- Despite his last name, Tony Moeaki wants to be viewed as a normal fantasy tight end.  He’s consistently been targeted and is currently making good use of those looks.

Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- Feel free to leave a possible hairstyle for Tom Brady in comments.  Blogger’s choices here – centre or bottom right.

Banged up

- Updates on Ray Rice and Jahvid Best in 4 O’clock Focus

- Cedric Benson turned in an extremely entertaining day (90 total yards, 2 TDs), but needed some attention from the trainer’s after his 27th carry.

- At first it looked like Pierre Thomas busted an axel, but he walked off on his own and was wheeling in OT.  The Saints hope he’s fine because all they have left is Chris Ivory (no he wasn’t brought over from the WWE).

- Drew Brees getting his ankle checked is not a welcome sight to his owners.  No worries though, he was back to engineer the Saints’ game-winning drive to lead the Saints into field goal range in overtime.

Maybe it’s leftover bitterness from our slo-pitch defeat, but I didn’t really feel bad for Garrett Hartley.  His botched 29 yarder allowed Atlanta to wrap up the 1 o’clockers with a victory.  Football!

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The Coin Toss

Fantasy owners can’t benefit from Harvey Dent’s Method for Decision-making (that’s Two Face by the way, and did Christopher Nolan’s interpretation almost ruin The Dark Knight for anyone else?).  So, before every slate of Sunday NFL games, Zach Cosby will play Commissioner Gordon and try to make sense of a few difficult lineup decisions.

QB

Joe Flacco (vs. CLE) vs. Alex Smith (@ KC)

Yes, Smith improved his passer rating by 30 points against New Orleans, but he still threw 2 picks and that was at home.  While KC’s secondary is nothing like Seattle’s, their stadium is an even tougher place to play than Qwest Field.  Frankly, I don’t see Smith getting comfortable in this one.  Speaking of comfort, Footsteps Flacco has looked everything but in his first two games.  Something tells me this won’t be the Ray Rice show to the degree that many expect, and that the Ravens will use this week to get Flacco on track.  A couple of early passing touchdowns later, Flacco is the call.

RB

LaDainian Tomlinson (@ MIA) vs. Brandon Jackson (@ CHI)

The Bears have allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league over the first two weeks, but their first effort came against Jahvid Best in his debut and their second came thanks to the Cowboys only running the ball 19 times.  Does this mean Jackson breaks out on Monday night?  If we could guarantee him 20 carries, he could.  Unfortunately, John Kuhn was very much in the mix last weekend and the Bears could very well hang with the Packers for long enough that Jackson won’t be used to salt away a victory.  While it’s more likely the Jets and Dolphins will battle right to the finish, LT has been getting the ball enough to be a viable option and Rex Ryan has stated he’d like to see each of his backs get it at least 15 times.  With that many touches (and assuming Mark Sanchez doesn’t throw up on himself in primetime again – see season opener), Tomlinson’s the call.

WR

Jeremy Maclin (@ JAX) vs. Kevin Walter (vs. DAL)

What a difference a week makes.  Just last Sunday I was pumping up Dallas’ secondary, saying they’d be too much for Jay Cutler and his receiving corps.  This week, I expect the Cowboys’ DBs to be no match for Matt Schaub and the Texans’ wideouts.  Walter has seen plenty of targets and has scored touchdowns in each of the first two weeks.  Neither of those facts will change in Week 3.  While WR2s traditionally have plenty of success against the Jags, Jacksonville will have a tough time hanging with the Vick-led Eagles.  A Philly blowout would mean Maclin would have to get his early, while Walter appears to be headed for a shootout at the OK corral.  Walter’s the call.

Accountability Section: Week 2

Cutler vs. Henne – Cosby’s call: Henne (flip) It was Cutler — Cutler (277/3), Henne (114/1)

Benson vs. Stewart – Cosby’s call: Stewart (flip) It was Benson – Benson (78 yds), Stewart (43 yds)

Knox vs. Breaston – Cosby’s Call: Breaston (flip) It was Knox — Knox (4/82/0), Breaston (3/10/0)

Going barefoot obviously led to little (no) success in Week 2, so hopefully these post-slo-pitch flip flops will change my karma.  Slo-pitch Teammate 1 (who’s currently driving us home after our early tournament exit) feels that I shouldn’t be predicting the success of others since I wasn’t successful.   Slo-pitch Teammate 2 believes that yesterday we banked karma by making a trip to the Ice machine for the ladies across the hall.  However, after offering their input they immediately shifted focus to their favourite moments in “Get Him to the Greek”, so I don’t know how much stock I can put into their karma analysis.  One thing I do know is that I stand behind the picks above and that I really need a win in THE FAN league so I can get to .500.  Check back for ’1 O’Clock Thoughts’ and among other fantasy things, I’ll let you know how that’s going.

MANDATORY PROMOTIONAL NOTE:  “Sunday Driving” can be found here every week of the NFL season as Zach Cosby follows all of the action beginning with ‘The Coin Toss’ before Sunday’s games, continuing all afternoon and finishing deep into the night.  For a full fantasy preview each week, tune to The Fantasy Show on THE FAN590 Saturday morning at 11 or download the podcast (available on iTunes).  Tell your friends.

Sunday Driving: Week 2

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

3rd & Short – Sunday Night Knowledge

Manning-related

- The shot of Olivia Manning looking on at the start of the 2nd quarter was critical in adding to the game’s mystique.

- Eli accentuated an awful (insert any adjective for bad) first half with, as Al Michaels put it, “The Ole’ Sack Fumble”.  Eli proved why there’s a gap between upper tier fantasy QBs and guys like him.

- Peyton did his best (255 yards, 3 TDs) to emphasize that there’s a reason he’s included in the upper tier of quarterbacks – and that he’s the brother you want to own in the fantasy game.

- I’m surprised that during 4th quarter garbage time they didn’t start looking ahead to the next Manning Bowl in 2014.

- Thank your lucky stars Zack Cooper (my week 2 opponent).  If you looked in the fantasy dictionary under “Cheapest score possible” you’d find Eli Manning’s touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks that gave you the lead.

- For Eli’s sake he’s got a really nice family.  Big brother declined the opportunity to talk smack about him and he got a gentle caress from Mom after the destruction was complete.  Cooper wasn’t present.

Everyone-else-related

- The Tale of Brandon Jacobs’ Helmet – it sounds like a children’s book, which is fitting, because as the story goes Jacobs accidentally launched his helmet into the stands as he attempted to childishly chuck it at the bench.  A bit of an overreaction as well because he deserved whatever he got after his decision to cut the ball back instead of just powering into the hole like a big back should.  At least Ahmad Bradshaw looked good even in a blowout (17 for 89) and Jacobs’ temper tantrum only boosts Ahmad’s stock.

- Dallas Clark doesn’t look like a guy who should make over-the-shoulder catches, so one can understand why Mitchell Johnson gave him that touchdown play over the top.

- In the battle of Boy vs. Dog, Austin Collie came out ahead again as his line of 4/25/1 topped Pierre Garcon’s 1 grab for 11 yards.  Collie also had 4 targets to Garcon’s 3.

- What did we learn about the Colts’ running game?  Well, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown (like many NFL backs) can run against a defence that consistently trots out a lone linebacker.  Not to take too much away from Addai, he’s been getting it done for years.

The Cooper Manning Count turned out to be a really disappointing activity, probably because I chose to start after the pre-game show was over.  He still got 2 shout-outs when it really mattered, and because I’ve never seen him do a Manning-face, Cooper remains my favourite Manning son.

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2nd & 5 — 4 O’clock Focus

QB

-  Tie game in Washington.  Matt Schaub’s 421 yards and 3 majors has something to do with it.  Thanks to overtime, and a decision by Gary Kubiak to not try a 53 yard game-winner, Donovan McNabb responded with 426 yards and a score of his own.

- My Week 1 mention of Brady’s 50 touchdown pace was not a joke.  The defender looked out of bounds on his second pick but the Jets definitely made some halftime adjustments.  A multi-TD game against the Jets is nothing to sneeze at (as Rozon pointed out on Saturday).

- It looks like the Broncos didn’t like getting whipped by David Garrard in Week 1.  They picked off Matt Hasselbeck twice in the first half.

-  Another Gradkowski era has begun in Oakland.  If you booked Jason Campbell’s Farewell Party for next weekend, Tom Cable’s not sorry (’cause Oakland won).

- Kyle Orton had one of his serviceable weeks.

RB

- Plenty of action for Steven Jackson early in Oakland.  Reliable sources tell me (so I don’t have to watch) he’s over 100 total yards before the break.

- Congratulations Clinton Portis, your team managed 3 rush yards into the 3rd quarter, but you still had 2 majors.

- You don’t even Knowshon Moreno more than doubled Correll Buckhalter’s tote total but only managed 51 yards on 24 carries.  Laurence Maroney’s arrival will just make this more of a mess.

- 15 carries for 52 yards is hardly a bounceback for Shonn Greene, but his owners have to be relieved he outcarried a revived LT.

WR

- Darrelle who?  Randy Moss had a touchdown catch before the half.

- I’m not sure Braylon Edwards possessed the ball all the way through this play.  Am I right, or am I just too against the idea of Edwards ever deserving a touchdown?

- The Texans were looking to Andre Johnson often.  9 catches, 91 yards.  Then he had his ankle taped.  Then he came back in a bigger way, proving why he was the first receiver taken.

- Knock it off, Mark Clayton.  We get it, you went to the same school as Sam Bradford and you guys have great chemistry.  You don’t need to go scoring 2 touchdowns just to prove it.

- Mike Sims-Walker continued his unpredictability with a 10/105/1 line.  Just like Garrard’s 3 touchdowns last week, I don’t know what to make of Sims-Walker’s effort.

- Eddie Royal proved Week 1 wasn’t a fluke.  Fast Eddie was a yard away from a 2-score day.  His teammate Demaryius Thomas had a heck of a debut (8/97/1), which could mean good night for Jabar Gaffney even though rookies can be very inconsistent.  Thomas has the potential to be the best Demaryius in league history.

- With the quarterbacks going off, it wasn’t surprising to see Kevin Walter with double digit catches and triple digit yardage.  Don’t expect that every week.

TE

- Antonio Gates!

- John Carlson didn’t have the day I projected on the show.  Take 5 for 48 in a PPR on what was a tough day for the Seagulls.

-  Aaron Hernandez had over 100 yards receiving, and looked good doing it.  I don’t want to be the one counting on the fact that New England will keep him involved.

Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- I appreciate being informed when Santonio Holmes and Ben Roethlisberger are in the red zone.  I’m not hoping they’ll score though because they’re on my bench.

- Roommate 2 (he doesn’t know he’s roommate 2) appears on the scene with this tidbit from the Pats/Jets game.  “That’s great – CBS just promo’ed a show with Brady’s (significant other) right after a shot of him walking on the field.”  Not fantasy relevant, but Roommate 2 still gets it, honest.

- A confused Dan Fouts makes for terrific television.

- Overtime tied at 27, why not?  Especially when the quarterbacks are also going head-to-head in a tight fantasy matchup.

- Networks need to find a way to show the player involved in any play under review for the entire time it is under review.  Their reactions and gestures are the stuff that Reality TV producers can only dream about.

Banged up

- Tuned to the Jags/Chargers game in time to see Ryan Mathews being driven to the locker room.  Maybe they were going to look for the other ‘t’ for his last name.  Mike Tolbert’s the add in deeper leagues.  Lost out on him by 3 minutes in my Milton league, but the guy who grabbed him is an avid FAN listener so that’s OK.  In THE FAN League I was able to cut Chester Taylor (whom it doesn’t seem will be a factor as long as Forte is healthy – didn’t expect that coming in) in favour of Tolbert.  UPON FURTHER REVIEW:  Mathews injury isn’t considered serious but Tolbert will get the work if he does miss time.

- Roommate 1 makes himself useful once again.  From the kitchen I hear “Andre Johnson’s hurt.”  I would think he was just trying to mess with me but he’s not that clever.  I returned to the room to see Johnson getting his ankle taped and hear talk of him staying in the game.  Phew.

- Mark Sanchez appeared to injure his hand.  It turned out to be fine, 3 touchdowns fine (use him at your own risk).

Overtime cost me my nap.  Don’t worry about counting the number of times Cooper Manning is mentioned tonight, I’m on it.

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1st & 9 — 1 O’clock Thoughts (Full game version)

- first half notes look like this / second half notes look like this

QB

- Joe Falco…I mean Flacco…picked off 4 times by the Who Dey secondary!

- Dallas is in trouble but Tony Romo isn’t – he hooked up with Miles Austin another 10 times.

- Didn’t watch enough of Derek Anderson’s day to evaluate him, I’m sure the blowout made it tough.

- Didn’t watch a lot of Michael Vick because he performed as expected, except for the 2 fumbles.

- The first offensive touchdown of the week is brought to you by Matt Ryan (he finished with 3) – I don’t have to say it but Roddy White caught it.

- Flipped (sticking with that word) to the Cowboys/Bears game.  They just showed a montage of Jay Cutler running for his life and it’s only the first quarter.  A replay later on showed Cutler has adjusted, stepping up nicely for a long completion to Johnny Knox.  Cutler finished with 3 TDs, one thanks to a nice catch by Devin Hester.

- Matt Cassel wishes he could take back his first half – 2 picks and 60 yards.

RB (this section will remain Chris-Johnson-free unless he reaches 200 rush yards/3 scores)

- Sure it’s the Lions, and they have to worry about Michael Vick – but LeSean McCoy has hit the hole hard on both of his red zone touchdown runs.

- Must have blinked for the Chiefs most recent red zone series, the box score reads poorly inside the 10 as well: (T. Jones rushed for 3 yards, T. Jones rushed for no gain, M. Cassel incomplete pass) – terrible if you’re a Jamaal Charles owner.  My PIP now shows Todd Haley with his arms raised, which means Jamaal Charles will finish with 11 carries to Thomas Jones’ 2, this can’t happen.

- Looks like Mike Martz is going to find a way to get Matt Forte scores – for this one he split him out wide inside the 5.

- The Marshawn Lynch Showcase began in a big way in Wisconsin.  He got 17 carries to Fred Jackson’s 9.

- Tim Hightower continues to enjoy life without Beanie Wells.  His 100 yard day is almost in the bag through the 2nd stanza.

- Ray Rice just lit up someone on the Bengals’ D – my PVR tells me it was Antwan Odom – the announcers didn’t notice (Dick Enberg would have exclaimed “Oh My!”).  Disappointing that Flacco couldn’t find Rice underneath as the pocket collapsed – Rice wasn’t even in on the next third down; that can’t continue because he was so successful as part of the passing attack last season.  Update:  Was that 3rd down toss to Willis McGahee in double coverage a joke?  Cam Cameron you are killing me.

- The last thing anyone, including Jerome “Jogdish” Harrison wanted scrolling across the screen:  “J. Harrison rushed to the right for 3 yard loss.  J. Harrison fumbled.  G. Dorsey recovered fumble.”  You wanted more carries Jogdish – you’re not going to get them if you don’t hold onto the ball.  Plus you’ll be forced to watching horrible touchdown celebrations like the one Peyton Hillis produced in the 2nd quarter.  Jogdish didn’t do much despite doubling Hillis’ carries, in fact he got outgained by 2 yards.

- All right, Jahvid Best, I’m sorry I left you on the draft board.  72 yards and 2 scores (1 receiving) with just under 9 minutes to play in the 2nd Q isn’t gonna help me go back and pick you.  Best enjoyed garbage time as he’d approach 10 catches too.

WR

- Mike Williams (the Tampa version…ah ‘Cuse) owners are loving this 1 TD per week production.

- Jordan Shipley receiving some praise from the broadcast booth – if Caldwell remains out of the mix then consider shipping Jordan into your PPR lineup.

- Won’t be the last time this is typed:  Calvin Johnson’s day is saved by a late touchdown.

- DeSean Jackson has his first long TD of the season, so does Joshua Cribbs.

- The Dennis Dixon factor combined with Tennessee’s defence has resulted in one first half catch for Hines Ward – that ties him for the Steelers’ lead, yuck.  See how Ward does with Charlie Batch (‘Banged Up’ has more on this story).

TE

- Just scanned the 1 o’clockers for a great tight end day.  Things looked bleak until Jermichael Finley’s 4 for 103 line appeared.  Kellen Winslow pitched in 4 for 83 but the rest of the tight end crop has asked that their names not be mentioned.  Shiancoe had 6 for 86 and should continue to benefit from Rice’s absence but Minnesota’s in trouble at 0-2.

- Atlanta’s red zone trips are racking up and Tony Gonzalez doesn’t have a score – should we be worried?
Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- Remind me not to check my matchup with Zack Cooper until the 4 o’clock games begin – he only has 2 guys playing right now (For his sake I won’t name them)

- Roommate 1′s poor picks have resulted in us snapping at each other over having to watch that bizarre Sprint commercial where the dude lets his mullet down.

- Who Dey?  Well, he’s Mike Nugent and he beat the Ravens 15-10 all on his own.

- Congratulations cable provider that will remain unnamed, the games are actually listed in the guide.

- Raise your hand if you’re in an IDP league and you’re extremely nervous until your dude(s) record(s) their first tackle. (Cosby raises hand)

- 1:35am or 1:35pm, bacon and eggs = an outstanding choice.

- PACMAN!…he got an interception

- The Chefs just cooked up a first half pick 6 – hoping that’s just an appetizer for KC’s D (in my lineup this week)

Banged up

- Vince Young (ego) – replaced by Kerry Collins – to make matters worse, Collins almost brought Tennessee all the way back against Pittsburgh

- Jason Witten (concussion) – monitor – Dallas is in trouble at 0-2 as well.

- Michael Turner (groin) – they’re calling it mild but still make sure you’re seated when reading Jason Snelling’s statement on how he’d be the obvious add if Turner were to miss time.

- Roommate 1 makes his first blog appearance and he’s surprisingly helpful.  He just regained consciousness following what was an adventurous night I’m sure, and his first words from the couch were “Who’s the backup in Pittsburgh right now?  Dixon’s hurt…it says so on the screen”.  The ticker wasn’t lying, Dixon has a knee injury, so it’s Chuck Batch time.  Thanks Roommate 1, now enjoy your nachos (though they don’t compare to bacon and eggs).

- Percy Harvin re-injured his hip but only left briefly – Brett Favre exhaled.

It’s only the second week and I’m already sick of having to hope my guys who play late can make up for the jerks who played poorly in the early games.  Late injury note:  Shaun hill was shaken up during Detroit’s last ditch effort…you don’t want whoever would take over.  Be sure to check in around dinner time (and leave a comment any time if that’s your thing).
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The Coin Toss

Fantasy owners can’t benefit from Harvey Dent’s Method for Decision-making (that’s Two Face by the way, and did Christopher Nolan’s interpretation almost ruin The Dark Knight for anyone else?).  So, before every slate of Sunday NFL games, Zach Cosby will play Commissioner Gordon and try to make sense of a few difficult lineup decisions.

QB

Jay Cutler (@ DAL) vs. Chad Henne (@ MIN)

Initial reaction – “Do I have to?”  But after considering a few factors, the decision seems more simple.  Cutler heads into action with a reputation of tossing INTs; Henne doesn’t.  Cutler doesn’t have a running game the defence has to respect; Henne does.  Cutler’s missing a target like Brandon Marshall; Henne isn’t (there’s only one Brandon Marshall – he plays for the Dolphins).  Minnesota’s stout run D will force the Fish (mammals) to the air, and Henne will answer by starting to live up to his preseason hype.  Henne’s the call.

RB

Cedric Benson (vs. BAL) vs. Jonathan Stewart (vs. TB)

Both of these backs ran all over their respective opponents last season.  Actually, they each did it twice.  There’s no doubt Benson’s a horse, but his (and my) Bengals are facing another team that could put them in an early hole, and if they do go down early there’s less of a chance that Cedric will do as much late entertaining as he did last week (with that cheap TD).  Jonathan Stewart is finally off of the injury report and his Panthers are not in danger of falling behind, in fact they’ll look to go ahead by pounding it on the ground.   It’s tough to bench a starter and insert a guy who doesn’t get the lion’s share of the carries, but the man some affectionately call J-Stew is the call.

WR

Johnny Knox (@ DAL) vs. Steve Breaston (@ ATL)

I know, I know, nobody wants to hear this much about the Bears.  This is a situation that needs to be addressed though, as it pits a team’s number 1 receiver (Knox) against a team’s number 2 receiver (Breaston).  Knox didn’t really get the burners going in Week 1, and now he’ll be up against a couple of the league’s best corners.  Breaston looked great in the season opener (better than his fro at the Super Bowl if that’s possible) and will be dealing with a much weaker secondary.  Breaston is the call.

Accountability Section: Week 1

Palmer vs. Kolb – Cosby’s call: Palmer (flip) It was Palmer — Palmer (345/2), Kolb (24 yds/sacked face)

Forsett vs. Williams – Cosby’s call: Williams (flip) It was Williams — Forsett (60 yds), Williams (62 yds)

Jacoby vs. Legedu – Cosby’s Call: Legedu (flip) It was Legedu — Jacoby (2/29/0), Legedu (5/110/1)

Looks like I was wearing my lucky socks last week.  This week I’m not wearing socks (too much information?).  Check back all day to see whether or not my attire affects my picks and to stay up to date on anything and everything fantasy-related from Week 2.  See y’all real soon…

MANDATORY PROMOTIONAL NOTE:  “Sunday Driving” can be found here every week of the NFL season as Zach Cosby follows all of the action beginning with ‘The Coin Toss’ before Sunday’s games, continuing all afternoon and finishing deep into the night.  For a full fantasy preview each week, tune to The Fantasy Show on THE FAN590 Saturday morning at 11 or download the podcast (available on iTunes).  Tell your friends.

Sunday Driving: Week 1

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

 

3rd & Short – Sunday Night Knowledge

Expected

-  More than one Dallas mental lapse ended up costing them the game (even less shocking that the final straw was a flag on Alex Barron; his R.A.P. sheet is about as long as hers)

- Miles Austin led all receivers in the game with a gross 10/146/1 line

- They showed Dan Snyder more than once

- Donovan McNabb didn’t have a touchdown at halftime (or in the game – I’m not high on the ‘Skins offence)

- Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice each touched the ball before going in for the half

- Al Michaels mentioned Joey Galloway’s age (he’s 38…also, he didn’t have a catch…glad I drafted him late)

- Donovan McNabb made plays thanks to his legs (he’s not that old)

- This is Josh Bidwell’s profile pic – what a Facebook doozie that would be

Unexpected

- Dez Bryant got the first 3 looks in a crucial 2 minute drill (and Cris Collinsworth likes him – not as surprising).  The rookie looked strong, finishing with 8 grabs for 56 yards.

- Marion Barber led all Dallas rushers with 39 yards (Felix Jones came within 1)

- Deep into the 4th quarter, Larry Johnson and Fred Davis hadn’t touched the ball.  LJ would get 3 carries late.

- Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison are back for Sunday Night Football

- The play that would make it 10-0 at halftime (@ the 1:25 mark).

- Roy Williams made a tough catch in traffic…and Tony Romo looked for him in the crunch

- Donovan McNabb wasn’t laid out several times by Dallas’ front line.

- It was nerve-racking defending a 15-point lead against Jason Witten in a PPR league, though I’ll take 3 catches for 27 yards.

- Tony Romo didn’t have a touchdown at halftime.

- I managed to stay awake through the entire Sunday Nighter despite missing my usual nap following the 4 o’clock games.

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2nd & 3 — 4 O’clock Focus

QB

- At halftime Matt Hasselbeck had just as many touchdowns as Aaron Rodgers, Kevin Kolb, Derek Anderson, Sam Bradford and Alex Smith combined.  Hasselbeck finished with a 170/2/1 line.  The ‘Hawks go to Mile High to visit the Broncos in Week 2, the same Denver team that David Garrard just lit up for a career-high 3 scores.

- Kevin Kolb just started his 2-minute drill by staring down DeSean Jackson and narrowly avoiding an interception.  His debut as the starter isn’t going as planned – 4 of 9 for 23 yards and a face plant.

- Joe Buck “Kevin Kolb is not on the sideline…Kevin Kolb is not on the sideline…he and Bradley are out with concussions” (Couldn’t have been more monotone)  Obviously this is big news if you own any Eagle.  Watch closely to see how Vick handled his half of football but don’t put too much stock in the results.  1) He didn’t have all of the first team reps.  B) Green Bay didn’t prepare all week for a Vick-run offence and thirdly, he started with his squad firmly behind the 8 ball trailing by 17.  Adding Vick still seems out of the question, unless you feel the Eagles will showcase him for a trade until they’ve ensured Kolb is fully healthy.

- When a rookie QB puts it up at least 50 times in his debut, at least 3 picks can be expected.  Sam Bradford hit both of those minimums.  If your league doesn’t penalize INT’s, Bradford may be someone to stash as it looks as though the Rams are going to let him air it out.

RB (this section will remain Chris-Johnson-free unless he reaches 200 rush yards/3 scores)

- Just as 3 fine gentleman on a certain radio show mentioned, Tim Hightower is thriving without Beanie Wells.  Of course, that sentence put the hex on Hightower and his line stayed pretty much the same. (13/54/1)  Hightower tossed in a couple of fumbles, including one inside 2 minutes.

- Seattle’s victory didn’t come thanks to one running back unfortunately.  Julius Jones had 8 totes, Justin Forsett had 7 and Leon Washington carried it 6 times.  Forsett had the most yards and was the only back with a catch (3 actually) if it’s any consolation.

- Ryan Grant racked up 45 yards on 8 carries then hit the sidelines in a walking boot.  That situation is addressed later on in “Banged Up”.
WR

- Mark Clayton hasn’t taken long to find a rhythm (hate typing that word) with Sam Bradford.  7 first-half grabs – 10 altogether.  Clayton had a big day but he and his offseason training partner will be tested by Oakland’s secondary next week.

- The same can’t be said for Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree, they’re definitely not on the same page.

- Maybe Smith and Crabtree can have a group therapy session with Larry Fitzgerald and Derek Anderson, because they appeared to be in the same boat before hooking up for the go-ahead score.  Don’t give up on Anderson, he still has the weapons/game plan to help him emerge as a low-end QB1.

TE

- Covered them too much at 1 o’clock.
Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- Sometime in the next 48 hours someone will try to convince you to watch the Weaver injury…don’t.

- During the injury timeout I checked my score against Seixeiro.  He has Arian Foster…’nuff said.

- Anyone who says they don’t like the PIP function is crazier than Lloyd Braun.

- How long did that conversation between the booth at the 49ers/Seahawks game and Jimmy Johnson back in Los Angeles last?  Were they trying to fill the whole 3rd quarter of the 28-6 blowout?  I had to switch to Cards/Rams when they started commenting on Pete Carroll’s increased familiarity with the challenge rule.

- I want pizza.

Banged up

- Leonard Weaver (knee)

- Kevin Kolb (concussion) – whether you’re wearing a facemask or not wearing a facemask…never hit the ground face first…I don’t plan on continuing the Michael Vick discussion.

- Ryan Grant (ankle) – this is turning into the injury bowl, the latter looked bad enough for me to add Brandon Jackson (Green Bay gets Buffalo next week)

- Laurent Robinson (down late 4th – monitor)

All right – I’m gonna order some ‘za before the Sunday Nighter.  I’ll have a short recap for you as soon as the dust settles…

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1st & 9 — 1 O’clock Thoughts

QB

- Is there anything better than flipping to a game and having your QB throw a touchdown pass – Thank you Matt Schaub (with a Peyton Manning disgruntled face to boot! – example here) Peyton wasn’t as disgruntled in the end (40 of 57, 433 yds, 3 tds)

- A review has confirmed that Tom Brady has a shot at another 50 touchdown season.  He already has 2 strikes to Wes Welker…maybe he should have waited to sign that contract.

- Jay Cutler’s liking his new offence…hopefully his rotator cuff doesn’t mind it (23 of 35/372/2 and only 1 pick)

- Don’t know what to make of David Garrard’s career-high 3 touchdown passes.

RB (this section will remain Chris-Johnson-free unless he reaches 200 rush yards/3 scores)

- ARIAN FOSTER!…his 3 TDs are great for Foster owners, not as great for Andre Johnson or Matt Schaub owners (Johnson 0 TDs, Schaub 1 TD)

- You da (you da) Best – Jahvid Best notches 2 touchdowns before halftime – 20 yards on 14 carries isn’t as good

- I’ve flipped (correct verb?) to the Steelers game 4 times now, as expected I’ve only seen Mendenhall carrying the ball.  When I flipped back it was overtime and Rashard gave his fantasy owners the rare gift of the O-T touchdown.  You either hate that (you’re facing him) or you love it (you own him).

- Message from Jerome “Jogdish” Harrison owners to Peyton Hillis:  “Peyton my man, know you’ve already fumbled twice, but it looks like they want you to eat away at Jogdish’s carries, so if you could just keep fumbling and crush those plans that would be great.  Thanks, big cat”  (Final carry count:  Hillis 9, Harrison 9)

- Matt Forte just made a case for Chester Taylor to get the goal line carries by failing to punch it in on 3 attempts from inside the 1…yes…inside the 1.

- The Raiders were blown out.  Thanks to the absence of Michael Bush, Darren McFadden left with some fantasy dignity (150 total yards and a score)

WR

- HAKEEM NICKS!…that is all

- How healthy is Wes Welker’s knee?  It’s 2 touchdowns healthy.

- Still don’t think Brandon Marshall will reach 100 catches this season?  He had 6 at halftime.

- It only took a half for controversy to arise regarding Cincy’s receiving duo.  Ocho and T.O. had already hit the locker room when the Bengals were attempting a hail mary with one second remaining in the half.  (Jordan Shipley got the cheap reception and yards – Palmer owners exhaled that it didn’t end up as another INT)  Ocho ended up having a day.

- Sunday we spell PPR redemption – R-O-Y-A-L…my 60 catch prediction for Fast Eddie seems a little low

- After Sunday, the name Champ Bailey will never be spoken in the Sims-Walker household.  On the other side of the ball, Kyle Orton found Brandon Lloyd 5 times for over 100 yards, Jabar Gaffney caught the TD.

- Dennis Dixon didn’t hurt Hines Ward (6/108) but he did hurt Mike Wallace (2/62)

- Calvin Johnson is too good to deserve a touchdown

TE

- Carson Palmer likes Jermaine Gresham so much that he’ll throw to the other team trying to get him the ball.  (Pick six New England = possible long day for Cedric Benson owners with Who Dey Nation down 24-0) Palmer did hook up with Gresham in the endzone later.

- Marcedes Lewis is out of the garage and doesn’t need a map to the end zone – 2 catches, both worth 6 six points each.

- Already a 3rd note on tight ends – wow – but it should be noted that Matthew Stafford is looking Tony Scheffler’s way quite a bit (5 catches) – see how Scheffler does with Shaun Hill behind centre.

Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- Thank you cable provider that will remain unnamed, “NFL Sunday Ticket” is extremely informative and incredibly helpful as I search through the games.

- A rude welcome to my NFL season:  Jim Nantz and Phil Simms working the Bengals game – when either thinks they’re right it’s nearly impossible to stomach.

- Definitely missed the music over the summer – if you had to choose one of the themes to have for the rest of your football-watching life, would you go with CBS’ theme or FOX’ theme?

- Speaking of FOX, their new score bug makes me feel like I’m playing NFL blitz

Banged up

- Kevin Boss (head)

- Matthew Stafford (sling) … thanks Julius Peppers

Now that Denver/Jacksonville finally went final, I’m going to slam some Harvey’s (gift certificates/free stuff?) and hunker down for some 4 o’clock bloggage.  Before all of that I grabbed Brandon Tate in my league that rewards return yards, with his involvement in the offence perhaps you should too.  See y’all real soon…

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The Coin Toss

Fantasy owners can’t benefit from Harvey Dent’s Method for Decision-making (that’s Two Face by the way, and did Christopher Nolan’s interpretation almost ruin The Dark Knight for anyone else?).  So, before every slate of Sunday NFL games, Zach Cosby will play Commissioner Gordon and try to make sense of a few difficult lineup decisions.

QB

Carson Palmer (@ NE) vs. Kevin Kolb (vs. GB)

I’ve appeared in only 12 fewer NFL games than Kevin Kolb.  What I’m trying to say is that I’m skeptical of the Eagles’ new starting QB because of his lack of experience.  If Green Bay’s explosive offence goes ahead early, Kolb could still post great yardage numbers, but his TD chances could dwindle and Green Bay’s secondary would be set up to pick him off.  Even if the Bengals try to use Cedric Benson to control the clock, the offence should move and Palmer will have more touchdown potential.  Palmer (with his experience) is the call.

RB

Justin Forsett (vs. SF) vs. Ricky Williams (@ BUF)

Ricky ran for a combined 200 yards and 2 touchdowns in his two meetings with Buffalo last season.  The Dolphins’ RB2 should be good for 15 carries again today, making 80 yards and a score a distinct possibility.  Forsett’s been named the starter in Seattle, but Pete Carroll’s still not telling how he’ll split the funds amongst the running backs.  Not only that, Forsett will be running behind a line that’s in worse shape than this.  It’s tough to bench a starter and insert a guy who doesn’t get the lion’s share of the carries, but Ricky (with or without the dreads) is the call.

WR

Jacoby Jones (vs. IND) vs. Legedu Naanee (@ KC)

These wideouts will be involved in a couple of games that could light up the fantasy pinball machine.  Jacoby (can you really ever call him Jones) will have his first chance to live up to all of the preseason hype.  If Owen Daniels wasn’t going to be on the field at all, the Texans’ budding star would have plenty of opportunity to shine.  With Daniels, Walter, Johnson (that Andre guy) and Foster out there, Jacoby’s only shot will be a big play – something the Colts’ secondary isn’t prone to allowing.  On Monday night, Legedu will serve as a starting WR on another of the league’s explosive offences.  In this primetime position, the Naanee will be putting KC’s corners to sleep like it’s his job.  Legedu (who wins the all-name battle here) is the call.

There you have it folks, the first edition of ‘Coin Toss’ is in the books.  You are now officially more ready for the opening Sunday of the 2010 season than you could ever imagine.  Feel free to comment on the decisions above, or leave a lineup choice you made/support/hate in the comments section.  See you (right here with my thoughts – so check back) after the 1 o’clock games.

MANDATORY PROMOTIONAL NOTE:  “Sunday Driving” can be found here every week of the NFL season as Zach Cosby follows all of the action beginning with ‘The Coin Toss’ before Sunday’s games.  For a full fantasy preview of Week 2, tune to The Fantasy Show on THE FAN590 Saturday morning at 11 or download the podcast (available on iTunes).  Blog-lovers can get their weekly preview from Mark Sheldon’s “In The Huddle” every Thursday or Friday at this very link.  That’s it, that’s all…so for now, may all your pick-ups be better than Fabro’s…

Inside The Huddle – Week 1

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

By Mark Sheldon

Thank god the off season is coming to an end! I am not sure if it’s the fact that Tiger Woods, Lindsay Lohan and Justin Bieber stole the headlines, or that my Sunday’s were spent watching poker and darts while creeping Megan Fox on the internet, but I am beyond excited to get the 2010 NFL season started! Why is that? Because the world’s greatest leisure activity is back…fantasy football! And “leisure activity” may be an understatement. Some people lose friends, jobs and wives over fantasy football (in sequential order of course).  I think we all can admit that this is something people take way too seriously. Heck, down in Texas they’ve introduced fantasy football at the high school level! High school? What?? Betting on 16-year-olds? Come to think of it, Justin Bieber would make a good DB or WR. He does have some pretty sweet moves…

The bottom line is fantasy football takes over people’s lives in the fall time. I break up with my girlfriend every Saturday night…and we get back together every Tuesday morning. My Thanksgiving dinner is spent giving my aunts and uncle’s one word updates on my life as I check my Blackberry for the latest updates. But fantasy football does the weirdest things to people – last year I turned down tickets to a Toronto Raptors game…because it was Sunday. Could I have checked scores after the 1 p.m. games? Absolutely. Does sitting on a couch watching my players “live” have any bearing on how they’ll perform? Absolutely not.  But that’s what’s sick. It’s like fun dip for elementary kids or throwing up for Lindsay Lohan…it’s addicting. (By the way, has anyone seen ‘Machete’ yet?)

Speaking of addicts, I almost became one this offseason thanks to Brett Favre. That guy really knows how to string people on. He would be the worst ex-husband ever: “I love you and want to be with you…but I can’t be with you.” I couldn’t even keep track of how many times he went back and forth. Just like Tiger Woods, I lost count.

Favre is just one of the many intriguing story lines for the 2010 fantasy football season. Coming off one of the best years in his career, can he put up similar numbers? Can Percy Harvin stay conscious for a whole game? Will Matt Forte pull an R Kelly and piss away all his talent? CJ Spiller, Jahvid Best or Ryan Matthews…which rookie will be this years Ray Rice? If Derek Anderson is the starting QB, is Larry Fitzgerald a top-10 WR? What’s the best couple out there – Manning/Wayne, Schaub/Johnson, Rodgers/Jennings or Heidi/Spencer? Do Bills fans have anything to cheer for this year? Was George Bush in on the oil spill? Does Chris Bosh look like a Raptor? Did Ben Roethlisberger really pull his…ok, we’ve lost focus…

Let’s go Inside the Huddle…

1st and 10:1st and 10 deals with 10 issues affecting the fantasy football world

1. Brett Favre – the fact that he’s gone back and forth more times than Anne Heche is alarming. He has angered sports fans everywhere. He is 41 in October, furthermore, he was born in the 60′s. But he’s Brett Favre. He’s also coming off a season in which he threw for over 4,200 yds and had over 30 TD’s, just the 3rd time he’s done that in his 36-year career. So where does that leave him this season? Well, where he was last off season. Someone will get a late round steal because no one wants to go out on a limb and draft him where he deserves. The problem is there are too many question marks for Favre. Sidney Rice will miss at least 6 games and Percy Harvin has serious health issues. Adrian Peterson can kill a drive with his fumbles. He is 41 in October. In fantasy, you want sure things from your QB. I would draft the likes of Flacco, Kolb and Cutler before him. And with Rodgers, Manning, Brees, Brady, Romo, Rivers and Schaub leading the pack, an aging HOF bound Favre isn’t that appealing to me. But, this guy could win the Super Bowl. You never know with Brett. What I do know is Favre is 41 in October.

2. Rookie RB’s – being a rookie RB in the fantasy world isn’t as much about skill as it is about opportunity. Luckily for this year’s crop, it looks like the top 3 draft picks from this years draft will have plenty of field time to showcase those skills. Ryan Matthews will likely be the top RB this year. The San Diego Chargers envision Matthews as their primary carrier and he is joining one of the leagues best offenses. Darren Sproles will not be taking early down carries, nor will he be seeing goal line action. Matthews’ soft hands and speed make him that much more valuable in PPR leagues. He reminds me a lot of LT. Jahvid Best will be the #2 rookie RB when this season comes to an end. In the Lions rookie camp, Best was used all over the field and like Matthews, showed a well-rounded skill set. He brought that excitement to the pre season, where he averaged 8.6 yds per carry, the most for any RB who had at least 15 carries. Kevin Smith is coming off a torn ACL and has looked horrendous this pre season. CJ Spiller is the wild card. Picked 9th overall by the Buffalo Bills, Spiller has the most electrifying stuff out of all 3. But he was drafted to a team that has 2 legitimate #1 RB’s in Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. Jackson is injured and Lynch just came back. Spiller will be splitting carries the whole season. Spiller has Chris Johnson written all over him. In a keeper league, this guy will be good.

3. Larry Fitzgerald – it is quite possible Fitzgerald will finish outside the top-10 this year in the WR category. Why? Because Derek Anderson is his quarterback. Aaron Rodgers makes Greg Jennings better; Peyton Manning makes Reggie Wayne better. Trent Edwards makes Lee Evans worse. Do the math. I’d wait 2 rounds to reach on Fitz.

4. Ben Roethlisberger – the summer from hell came full circle this week when his teammates did not vote him in as a captain and the coach wouldn’t say he would start when he returned from his supension. But that’s reality, and this is fantasy. Do I see value in Big Ben? Sure, just in the bottom rounds. IF you get a QB in the 1st Round, Roethlisberger is the perfect complimentary piece late in your draft. However, no one should be drafting Roethlisberger with the idea he will make an impact. Last season was his first real breakout in fantasy football, so do not waste a top-10 pick on him, in any format. In this case, he is guilty until proven innocent.

5. NFL couples – The QB-WR relationship in the fantasy world sort of reminds me of my relationship with my ex girlfriend. It can be so good, yet so bad. You will love it one week, and hate it the next. Potential Couple of the Year candidates are Manning/Wayne, Rodgers/Jennings, Brady/Moss, Schaub/Johnson, Brees/Colston and Romo/Austin. These are probably the only QB-WR couples you want on your team. With bye weeks, and potential down weeks (in a 17-week schedule every week is big in fantasy football) from clubs, you need trust in a relationship, and these are the only couples I trust. I couldn’t say the same about Kolb/Jackson, Manning/Smith, Flacco/Boldin or Ryan/White. If Manning/Wayne’s relationship is like the consistent love your grandparents show, Kolb/Jackson is that annoying couple who fights all the time…you’re just not sure what you’re gonna get.  Never thought it was possible to compare my ex to DeSean Jackson, but I just did.

6. Buffalo Bills – we may have the Cleveland Browns circa 2009 here folks. Let it be known, I love the Bills. I went to their last home playoff game…37 years ago. I draft Lee Evans every year because I know one day, when the Armageddon comes, this guy will be great. If the Bills were liquor, they would be Tequila – a constant headache. Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller all could be #1 RB’s on an NFL team. Jackson and Lynch both rushed for 1,000 yards the year they started, while Spiller has freak-like abilities. But their offensive line is just that, offensive. Trent Edwards has no time in the pocket to hit Evans down field. The RB’s have no gaps to hit at the line of scrimmage. That is fantasy disaster. The only positive for the Bills? Paul Posluszny is one of the top IDP’s in the fantasy world.

7. Backup RB’s – Every season there are a couple RB’s who come out of nowhere, either through injuries or because they force teams to give them some playing time. This year will be no different. Montario Hardesty was going to force Jerome Harrison to perform well in Cleveland, but then he torn his ACl in preseason. So that leaves us with Karrem Huggins in Tampa Bay, Thomas Jones in Kansas City, Felix Jones in Dallas and Jonathan Stewart in Carolina. While most of them sound like household names, these 4 RB’s may very well be the difference in keeping you afloat when a starter goes down. Cadillac Williams has so much skill, and while some may look at the release of Derrick Ward as a good thing, I think they did because Huggins had a very stellar camp. Thomas Jones is going to take goal line carries away from Jamal Charles, and in most league formats, that’s going to be a huge burden for Charles owners. Felix Jones is the best RB in Dallas, and if Barber gives up an inch, Jones will take a yard. Jones averages 6.5 YPC for his career. If you drafted Marion Barber before him, you are a resident of Plymouth, MN. Jonathan Stewart is like Rubin “Hurricane” Carter…at the wrong place at the wrong time. He would be starting in most cases, but DeAngelo Williams is in front of him. But, Stewart did all he could last year to steal some carries, and I expect the same from him this year. Williams went from 17 rushing TD’s in 2008 to 9 in 2009; while Stewart has had 10 TD’s each of the last 2 seasons. He will score, and now, he may get more touches. The bottom line (and I preached this last year), if your RB has any questions regarding his status as a #1 fantasy RB, GET THE BACKUP!

8. Backup WR’s – people don’t win pools with their 1st, 2nd and 3rd Round picks. They win it with their 9th Round picks or their 13th Round picks. Yes, everyone knows Greg Jennings is top cheese in Green Bay, but Donald Driver delivers great value. Last year, Driver had more receptions and TD’s than Jennings. And look at Miles Austin last year. Some names to be thrown out for this season: Jeremy Maclin in Philadelphia (Jackson spreads the D – wait for the connection between him and Kolb); Pierre Garcon in Indianapolis; Hakeem Nicks in New York; Mike Wallace in Pittsburgh (although I like the value of heath Miller and Hines Ward while Big Ben is out); and by default, Malcolm Floyd should be great in San Diego.

9. Have you lost your Mo-Jo? – um, what is going on in Jacksonville? The fact that Jaguar officials are so hush-hush on Maurice Jones-Drew has to be alarming. Keeping him out of everything? Not practice? Are we missing something? As a fantasy owner you can’t be dealing with question marks, the season is too short. MJD was probably a consensus top-3 pick during the summer (let’s remember this guy has never had less than 10 TD’s in a season and he averages 1,400 total YDS) but that was before the rumours of a possible ligament tear in his knee. He is also coming off a 365 carry season. I think it could be a perfect time to buy low on the guy – offering up a good RB/WR combo might get you him. If he’s on your team, you might have trouble sleeping Saturday nights.

10. Joe Flacco/Kevin Kolb – one of these two QB’s will be in the top-7 by the end of the season. First off, an elite QB will get injured, it happens. Secondly, they are in a position to really excel. Flacco spent the off season working the no-huddle offence, and his management gave him Anquan Boldin as a new target. Combine that with Ray Rice’s ability to wreak havoc on opposing defences, and Flacco is ripe for success. Kolb reminds me of a poor man’s Aaron Rodgers. He waited in the wing as the franchise QB became expendable, and now he has the opportunity to prove his worth. DeSean Jackson gives him a great deep threat (good for those 50+ TD passes), Jeremy Maclin gives him sure hands and Brent Celek gives him a reliable target across the middle. I ignore pre season numbers for the most part, as it is that, pre season. So I’m not worried by Kolb throwing 0 TD’s. I also drafted him in the 7th Round of my keeper pool and am completely biased.

Week 1 Rankings:

Weekly rankings are on a per-week basis. These are not projected season rankings.

QB:

1. Peyton Manning
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Matt Schaub
4. Tom Brady
5. Drew Brees
6. Tony Romo
7. Philip Rivers
8. Jay Cutler
9. Kevin Kolb
10. Eli Manning
11. Brett Favre
12. Donovan McNabb
13. Joe Flacco
14. Matt Ryan
15. Matthew Stafford
16. Carson Palmer
17. Alex Smith
18. Kyle Orton
19. Chad Henne
20. Trent Edwards

RB:

1. Chris Johnson
2. Adrian Peterson
3. Frank Gore
4. Maurice Jones-Drew
5. Ryan Matthews
6. Rashard Mendenhall
7. Ray Rice
8. Michael Turner
9. Shonn Greene
10. Steven Jackson
11. DeAngelo Williams
12. Ryan Grant
13. LeSean McCoy
14. Pierre Thomas
15. Cedric Benson
16. Ronnie Brown
17. Jamal Charles
18. Joseph Addai
19. Knowshon Moreno
20. Beanie Wells

WR:

1. Andre Johnson
2. Randy Moss
3. Reggie Wayne
4. Calvin Johnson
5. Miles Austin
6. Brandon Marshall
7. Roddy White
8. Greg Jennings
9. DeSean Jackson
10. Larry Fitzgerald
10. Steve Smith (CAR)
11. Steve Smith (NYG)
12. Marques Colston
13. Hines Ward
14. Hakeem Nicks
15. Chad Ochocinco
16. Mike Sims-Walker
17. Wes Welker
18. Jeremy Maclin
19. Dwayne Bowe
20. Pierre Garcon

TE:

1. Antonio Gates
2. Dallas Clark
3. Vernon Davis
4. Jason Witten
5. Jermichael Finley
6. Tony Gonzalez
7. Brent Celek
8. Kellen Winslow
9. Heath Miller
10. John Carlson
11. Zach Miller
12. Visanthe Shiancoe
13. Chris Cooley
14. Greg Olsen
15. Owen Daniels

You can catch The Fantasy Show with Ben Ennis, Zach Cosby, Alex Seixeiro and Ryan Fabro weekly on THE FAN 590. Follow Mark Sheldon on Twitter @markdsheldon

FANTASY PREP SCHOOL: The Dean’s Lists

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

From the desk of Zach Cosby – September 3rd, 2010

Like Dean Wormer (below) from Animal House, we here at THE FAN590 preach fairness.  So when many NFL teams avoided drama and change this offseason we didn’t think it would be right for them to have to endure rigorous fantasy analysis. Here’s Zach Cosby’s (much-anticipated) list of clubs that avoided his overly-critical opinion and that almost escaped his sarcastic wrath.

dean_wormer.jpg

The Honour Society*

New Orleans Saints

-        Speaking of fairness, not really fair that the Super Bowl Champs didn’t change much.  One of the few changes was great news for Pierre Thomas lovers though, as Mike Bell signed on with Philly.

Green Bay Packers

-        2010′s Main Event:  Rodgers vs. Brees – in the end it may not work out in his favour but I’ll take the guy who’s on his feet more and who plays in a dome (Brees).

Indianapolis Colts

-        Anthony Gonzalez played 2 steps for me last season…2 STEPS!  A perfect segue into the fact that Indy’s secondary receivers scare me in 2010.  Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie both broke out in ‘09, but with Gonzalez lingering and so many other weapons, even Peyton can’t make them all worth owning.

Houston Texans

-        Lonestar: Texan for beer.  Foster: Texan for starting running back – and Arian’s just one of many in Houston that packs a fantasy punch.

San Diego Chargers

-        Directly translated San Diego means “Whale’s V…(fantasy expert interrupts)…It actually stands for “Plethora (love that word) of fantasy options – even own the rookie Mathews (correct spelling) if you want.”

Dallas Cowboys

-        Everything may be bigger in Texas, but there still isn’t enough room in the Cowboys’ backfield to make a great case for Marion Barber and Felix Jones as fantasy starters.  Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Miles Austin make up for that and put Dallas among the more profitable fantasy offences.

Atlanta Falcons

-        Solid as a rock (you just chuckled if you’ve ever seen Arrested Development)

San Francisco 49ers

-        If it weren’t for the run-first mentality of their coach and their mediocre quarterback, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis would be even higher on draft boards.  I don’t have to mention Patrick Willis to those in leagues with defensive players.  But I do have to mention that offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye returns (hoping to prove he’s not a one-hit wonder).

New England Patriots

-        “The 5 Ws” – a fundamental journalism rule – can be applied to this situation.  Where Will We see Wes Welker drafted?  At press time Welker is being selected around pick 65.  If post-knee surgery Welker is even 80% of his pre-surgery self than he, Randy Moss and Tom Brady put this unit among the league’s elite.

The Honour Roll*

New York Giants

-        No big lights to inspire you, but nobody compares to their quiet production.

Minnesota Vikings

-        With Rice off the menu for six games (Sidney had hip surgery), it is unlikely Grandpa Favre will cook up a repeat of his 2009 season.  Therefore, I’m only considering All Day and Percy Harvin (migraines have to be easily treatable, right?) in 2010.  OK, maybe Jared Allen too, if only for his hair (here) and his sack celebration (here around the 1:27 mark).

Carolina Panthers

-        Do Panthers roar?  Don’t know – but I do know the fantasy noise in Carolina will be made by their two nasty backs, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

Tennessee Titans

-        Chris Johnson’s gonna Gump it (run Forrest-style of course, i.e. away from bully linebackers, through the endzone and then all over America).  If I ever saw Rob Bironas in person, I’d shake his hand.  That (and the fact he’s the only kicker I’ve mentioned) says saying something about his fantasy value.

Jacksonville Jaguars

-        MJD’s knee needs to hold up or this offence is in danger of falling a category lower.  MSW…wait…Mike Sims-Walker needs to show another year of consistent production before he warrants the fantasy respect usually bestowed upon those with 3 names and is referred to only by acronym.

Academic Probation

St. Louis Rams

-        Injuries should never be celebrated but at least fantasy owners won’t have to endure the excruciating experience of owning Donnie Avery in 2010.  Steven Jackson will probably be counting the losses again this season, but at least he’ll be doing so with a large workload thanks to having a rookie at QB.

Oakland Raiders

-        Oakland may not be a black hole when it comes to finding fantasy options in 2010, but their terrible offensive line makes it very tough.  Darren McFadden, Michael Bush (thumb, questionable for start of season) and Zach Miller may have the ability to achieve fantasy usefulness in spite of the o-line, but do you really want to give Jason Campbell, Darrius Heyward-Bay, Louis Murphy or Chaz Schilens the benefit of the doubt?

Cleveland Browns

-        All right, the Browns probably had enough changes to allow for a full column.  However, one of those changes was the acquisition of Jake Delhomme.  I don’t want to talk about him, do you?  Let’s focus on Montario Hardesty (if that is in fact his real name).  Hardesty’s presence means a threat to Jerome Harrison’s workload and bites into the value of the only two Browns on my draft board.  That’s not true, for my league that rewards return yards, my draft board also features Joshua “MTV” Cribbs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

-        He’s had a plethora (still a great word) of knee surgeries, but feel free to crank Soldier Boy Kellen Winslow onto your fantasy roster – he’s still a legit fantasy starter at tight end.  Mike Williams (ah ‘Cuse…not the Matt Millen draft pick) could be Tampa’s number 1, and can be considered in the late rounds.

There you have it, friends.  Any teams not on these lists have been broken down in the blog archives.  Whether you’ve read any or all that the Fantasy Prep School has to offer, you’re likely ready for your draft, which is good because the season starts in under a week.  I’m ready for my draft(s), too, but after Lincecum’s start Wednesday night it looks like it could be a while (cough…November – knock on wood) before I fully turn my attention to the great spectacle that is the NFL.  Still, no matter what the San Francisco Giants are doing, I will be with you in blog form every Sunday of the NFL season so be sure to check back here for some ‘Sunday Driving’.  Talk to you then.

*Must credit E.C. Drury High School, in my fine hometown, of Milton, Ontario where I picked up “The Honour” system – won’t say whether or not I made the cut.

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