Archive for December, 2010

Sunday Driving: Week 16

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

**CONGRATULATIONS ROB WONG – FAN FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE CHAMPION**

- Seriously, way to go Rob.  You win on 3 counts:  by becoming league champion, by getting your name in the blog, and by creating a team name inappropriate enough that I can’t mention it in this space.

2nd & 5  – 4 O’clock Focus

I made it to the Guy Who’s Actually In the Fantasy Finals (or GWAIFF for short)’s house just after the start of Canada vs. Russia.  5 late games in the NFL made for a pretty hectic evening – let’s see how it shook down…

QB

- JOSH FREEMAN! (5 TDs)

- Why did the Giants lose?  Aaron Rodgers had 404 yards and 4 scores…and Eli Manning had 4 interceptions.  Four.

- Carson Palmer isn’t supposed to have fantasy value in games where his team is not being blown out.  Week 16 was a different story.  The Bengals led wire-to-wire thanks to Carson’s 4 touchdown passes.

- Peyton Manning could have matched Palmer’s 4 touchdowns, but he slid.  He had a 4th, on the ground of all places, but he slid!  In this instance, having the most clever quarterback in the game actually hurt fantasy owners.  Peyton’s slide actually allowed the Colts to kneel out the clock (Dan Dierdorf didn’t notice, he went on about how Manning was trying to avoid injury, nice).

- In ‘The Coin Toss’ I recommended Tim Tebow over several names.  He even had better numbers than Matt Schaub thanks to a rushing touchdown.  Tebow and Schaub had 300+ yards and a score through the air.

RB

- Congratulations if you overthought your lineup enough to start Correll Buckhalter.  I didn’t see his 2 touchdown day against Houston coming.  He even outshone Arian Foster, but Foster still scored (routine for him).

- 2 of John Kuhn’s 6 carries were touchdowns.  That’s a good percentage.

- LEGARRETTE BLOUNT! (sucker pu…no no…164 rush yards)

- Speaking of guys who weren’t in lineups – Dominic Rhodes almost ran for 100 yards on 18 carries.  Joseph Addai made the most of his 12 carries in his return, finding the end zone on one of them (oh to own a running back in a Peyton Manning-led offence).

-  Ryan Mathews had 12 carries for 55 yards and a score.   He likely wouldn’t have had that many touches if Mike Tolbert hadn’t been stretchered off.  GWAIFF had Tolbert – his reaction can’t be printed.

- At least San Diego came to play on one phase of defence.  They held Cedric Benson to 54 yards on 20+ carries.  Bernard Scott took in a late and irrelevant touchdown from 10 yards out.

WR

- Jerome Simpson, his 0% ownership, his 150+ yards and his 2 touchdowns beg the question:  “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears…” wait, wrong cue card “If an NFL player catches 2 touchdowns and he’s not in a fantasy lineup – did he really catch those touchdowns?”  Simpson had the day Andre Caldwell was supposed to have.

- MIKE WILLIAMS! (TB) (2 TDs)  He won the battle of Mike Williamses (Williams’, Williamsi, Willi?) but the Seattle one never had a chance (cough, Whitehurst, cough).

- With Andre Johnson out, Jacoby Jones  (5 for 115) showed why everyone gave him so much preseason hype.  Granted it was Denver’s defence.

- Blair White was another replacement for Johnson that I recommended this morning, he caught a touchdown.  So did Pierre Garcon, on a perfectly called and exquisitely executed back shoulder throw to which Peyton audibled after the Raiders gave away their safety blitz.

- James Jones was also a recommended Johnson replacement.  He also caught a touchdown.  Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson each went well over 100 yards.  Nelson added a major.

- Anything Hakeem Nicks (4/93/1) can do Mario Manningham (4/132/1) can do better.  That’s only true today, GWAIFF and I agree Nicks may have been the best wideout this season (maybe behind Roddy White) had he not missed any time.  He would’ve easily led the league in receiving touchdowns anyway.

- Vincent Jackson (4 for 54) had nowhere near the day he had the last time Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd didn’t play.  Legedu Naanee (I said to put him in Johnson’s lineup spot too, but I wasn’t happy about it) led the team in receiving but didn’t beat Jackson by much.

TE

- KELLEN WINSLOW! (2 TDs)

- Owen Daniels is officially back after 8 catches for 73 yards and a score.  Don’t sleep on him next year.

- If Dallas Clark is healthy next year, you can sleep on Jacob Tamme.  His 7/78/1 day in Week 16 is just another reason you regret sleeping on him this season.

- I was getting sick of hearing Fabro talk about Zach Miller.  I’ll probably have to hear about him more after a 9/66/1 effort.

- It was assumed that Jermaine Gresham would benefit with the T.OCHO Show (or whatever it’s called) being off the air due to injury.  He clearly benefited with 56 yards and a major.

Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- GWAIFF’s first complaint/comment is that he’s probably going to lose his championship matchup.  I checked and he trails by 9 points with about half of the week’s NFL action left to go.  Typical fantasy football mentality, I love it.

- GWAIFF’s second complaint is that the lines near midfield in Cincy look crooked.  My first reaction was “Easy on the Bud Lights (free beer now?) there (GWAIFF)”.  Then I looked and he wasn’t kidding, some of the lines veered off near the sideline – I wonder if it helped The Ghost of Carson Palmer Past throw 4 touchdowns.

- After 1 period of the Canada game I received a text that read “I like this team”.  Typical world junior mentality, I love it.

Banged Up

- Since you ended up with a donut thanks to Mike Tolbert’s neck injury, and it was really the only significant injury of the day, I feel obligated to show it to you here.

- Apologies to Matt Hasselbeck, his injury wasn’t insignificant, but it was a bit of a punishment for Seahawks’ fans to have to see Charlie Whitehurst again this season.

Not a great boxing day for GWAIFF because he has to wait until Tuesday now to see if he can pull off a miraculous comeback.  At least Canada won.  We’re watching a wrap of today’s action and it looks like I’ve covered everything.  I don’t know what I get the bigger kick out of, that GWAIFF actually likes Football Night in America, or that Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel is broadcasting with the wind whipping right into his soaking-wet/frozen face.  Dude, I get that it’s awful weather without you being outside, but thanks for the laughs.  Speaking of nasty conditions, a big thank you to the City of Philadelphia for a Sunday night off.  I should go.

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1st & 7 – 1 O’clock Thoughts

Holiday lunch went long (who knew the Cosbys could talk so much) so here’s a late look at the early slate.

QB

- 3 TDs on 27 interception-free attempts for Tom Brady on his way to pushing Bernie Kosar out of his way as he climbs the list of all-time greats.  Ryan Fitzpatrick (no TDs/3 INTs) hogged all of the picks.

- Matt Cassel should have gotten rid of his appendix a while ago.  3 more touchdowns in Week 16.

- The snow should have prevented Jay Cutler from even seeing his receivers.  He still managed to find them 3 times for scores on the day.

- Sam Bradford (292/1) won the rematch of the former Heisman winners.  Troy Smith obviously lost.  The Smith of the Alex variety was his mediocre self after being tapped by Mike Singletary following The Smith of the Troy variety’s blow-up.

- You’ll take 299 and 1 from David Garrard but not with 2 picks and not against Washington’s secondary.  Garrard’s legs saved him again though as he did have a rushing score.

- Twos were wild for Shaun Hill in Miami.  He took his talents into LandShark Stadium (or whatever it’s called) and racked up 222 yards and 2 touchdowns.  One of those went to Jahvid Best, who raised his season stats enough to be referred to as Jahvid Not Terrible.

RB (still Chris Johnson free unless he goes for 200 and 3)

- Jamaal Charles helped out Cassel a ton by taking two of his passes in for scores.

- The backfield of Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis Woodhead combined for almost 200 rushing yards and a score (Woodhead got it – sorry)

- “Touchdown Steven Jackson!” That call will have to be way more common if the Rams make the post-season and if Jackson wants to be a Top 10 fantasy player in 2011.

- If Jay Cutler’s performance was the most surprising in Chicago this afternoon, the fact that Matt Forte went over 100 yards and scored, and Shonn Greene and L.T. both found the endzone against a couple of tough rush defences is the second-most surprising.  I guess snow really does mean advantage offence.

- I drafted Ray Rice for his reception potential, he had 1 today.  Luckily he racked up 92 yards on 25 carries – this team needs to involve him to win.

- You also didn’t want Garrard to lead the Jags in rushing.  Rashad Jennings’ name is likely being cursed everywhere thanks to his 61 total yards.  I don’t blame you if you never trust him again.  Rashad, we had faith, and you let Ryan Torain outgain you and grab a TD right in your own backyard.

WR

- Johnny Knox doesn’t grab a lot of touchdowns so 2 in one day in the snow against the Jets’ defence is an incredible feat.

- When you’re job might be on the line then it’s a good idea to target Brandon Marshall (10/102) a total of 16 times.  Well done in the loss Mr. Sparano.

- The Dwayne Bowe show must be in syndication thanks to his 6/153/1 day.  Randy Moss’ show has been cancelled (not in the box score).  Kenny Britt’s pilot will be picked up across the fantasy universe next year (4/89/1).

- “Go away Derek Mayson, nobody likes you.  T.J. Houshmandaddadumdadumdadah, you watch it too.”  That was the graffiti likely left in the Ravens’ locker room by an Anquan Boldin owner.  Boldin had 2 catches for 15 yards, while those other dudes hauled in a touchdown each.

- Mike Thomas was perhaps the best Jags’ play on paper, and that’s saying a lot.  He came through too (6/96/1).

- The ghost of Michael Crabtree future appeared in St. Louis and posted a 6/122/1 line.  Danario Alexander (6/99) and Danny Amendola (8/53) put up good PPR days.

- I’d be shocked if Mark Sanchez (and the Jets’ offensive scheme) allowed for Braylon Edwards (6/78) and Santonio Holmes (4/69/1) to be viable options each week.

- Tom Brady proved he can be good even when Wes Welker and Deion Branch only combine for 5 catches.

TE

- Aaron Hernandez didn’t play.  Rob Gronkowski did play.  Gronkowski grabbed 2 touchdowns.   Alge Crumpler must have missed a blocking assignment near the goal line because his one catch resulted in a touchdown.

- Brandon Pettigrew grabbed Shaun Hill’s other touchdown on his way to 74 yards on the day.  The Lions won!

- Dustin Keller led the Jets in receiving – remember when you thought he had a chance at being a top 3 tight end?

- Chris Cooley’s 5 for 48 would have looked a lot better with Fred Davis’ touchdown.

Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- Nobody told Ed Reed the Ravens’ coats weren’t flammable.  How was he to know?  He knew what he was doing on the field with 2 interceptions, watch out for him in the playoffs.

Banged Up

- No offence to Earl Bennett but when he’s the only one mentioned in this section, it’s great news for fantasy owners.

Time to settle in at Guy Who’s Actually In the Fantasy Finals (GWAIFF)’s house for a tough matchup at the World Juniors and some intense NFL action.  Go Canada!

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The Coin Toss

It’s here!  It’s finally here!  Christmas morning (mandatory Christmas reference – hope yours was Merry) has finally arrived for fantasy football owners who made their championship round.  Since it’s Boxing Day in real-life, let’s open up our flyers and see if we can’t find a couple of value plays for Week 16…

***WEATHER ALERT*** (pretend this is crawling across the screen) ***WEATHER ALE…

Update:  Shout out to Alex Seixeiro and Randall the Handle who just told the Inside the Lines listeners on THE FAN590 that Vikings/Eagles has been moved to Tuesday night in Philadelphia.  Nothing but clear skies on the weather radar for that night, and an increased chance for Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson to bring your opponent back from the dead to wrap up his championship victory on Tuesday night (Blame me if that happens).

Rich Eisen just told me (and all of Gameday Morning’s viewers) that there is a 100% chance of snow for the Sunday Nighter.  White-out condtions are expected as well as 35mph winds.  In Canadian terms, they’re going to get about 10cm from Sunday afternoon to Monday morning.  The Eagles PR dude actually tweeted that they’re “discussing the situation”.  So they may not even play tonight?!?  Two Monday Nighters again?!?!  A postponed game would be the best-case scenario for everyone (except the defences) – I checked – Monday night’s forecast calls for “variable cloudiness” and therefore “tons more scoring”.  Buffalo (Brady doesn’t care), Chicago and Cincy are the only other venues expected to get snow today – but none of those games are in danger of being moved.

RB – RASHAD JENNINGS!

-  With Maurice Jones-Drew officially out (Adam Schefter delivered the crushing news), the new Big Cat in the Jags’ backfield definitely deserves an exclamation point.  He also deserves RB1 consideration thanks to a visit from Washington’s 27th-ranked rush defence (Albert who?).  Instead of listing the backs you can replace with Jennings, it will be easier to list the backs I rank ahead of Jennings in Week 16.  In this order, Arian Foster, Darren McFadden, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Stephen Jackson and Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis should all still be started ahead of Jennings.

QB – Tebow or not Tebow?

- There’s no doubt the 18%-owned Tebow had a busy couple of days leading up to this weekend’s game, but his focus should not be questioned.  His matchup at home to Houston oozes potential.  Those in need of a signal-caller, or with these guys in their QB slot (Palmer, Campbell, Sanchez, Henne, Hill, Joe Webb or Troy Smith), should put Tebow in that slot and enjoy their journey to the promised land.

WR – Replacing Andre Johnson

- I couldn’t imagine counting on a beast like Andre Johnson all season long only to have him succumb to an ankle injury championship week…but…that nightmare could be a reality as a report in the Houston Chronicle stated that there is a good chance Johnson will sit.  Don’t freak out!  I’ve scoured the waiver wire for possible WR replacements whose games kick-off after you find out Johnson’s status.  They rank as follows:  Kevin Walter (@ DEN), Jacoby Jones (@ DEN), Blair White (@ OAK), James Jones (vs. NYG), Arrelious Benn (vs. SEA), Andre Caldwell (vs. SD), Legedu Naanee (@ CIN) … and … if you think none of those guys have a shot at a touchdown, I guess you can play Joe Webb (@PHI), but with the extra two days who knows what Old Man Favre is going to do – last time I checked he was only listed as Doubtful.

In my decade of playing the fake game I’ve never had a week end on a Tuesday night, let alone a championship week, so enjoy this one folks.  See you after the 1 o’clock games, until then I’ll be grabbing a holiday lunch, prepping for the Canada/Russia game at 4, following the NFL action and deciding what I’m going to do with a Sunday night off.  Cheers!

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.

For instant Sunday Fantasy Updates follow Zach on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/thecozbyshow

Sunday Driving: Week 15

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

3rd & Short – Sunday Night Knowledge

Date: Sunday, December 19, 2010 — Away Team:  Packers — Home Team:  Patriots

8:49 -  Charles Woodson drops a sure interception.  Significant because it allowed the Patriots drive to continue and allowed Tom Brady to eventually break Bernie Kosar’s single season record for pass attempts without an interception.  It also gave Al Michaels a chance to tell us that Woodson and Brady played together at Michigan for the one trillionth time.

8:51 – BenJarvus Green-Ellis caps the drive – that shoud have ended – with a 33 yard TD run.  Anyone playing Brady exhales, but the rout has begun, right?

8:53 – I learn that my brother (in Roommate 1′s typical spot) pays little attention to the blog:  “I thought you didn’t do the Sunday Night game.”

8:54 – Brother scrambles for excuses – obviously feels bad.  I’ll tell you someone who never feels bad – Ed Hochuli – easily my favourite ref.

9:11 – James Jones needs full concentration to haul in Matt Flynn’s first-ever touchdown pass.  How does Flynn celebrate?  An imitation of the Aaron Rodgers’ belt celebration.  Nicely done.

9:22 – Brother flips to ‘Eight Men Out’ on Sportsnet.  56 days until pitchers and catchers report.

9:44 – Right guard Dan Connolly responds to a Greg Jennings TD catch (to the shock of Jennings’ owners) by taking a squib kick back 71 yards.  The longest return by an offensive lineman in NFL history.  Brady took advantage by hooking up with Aaron Hernandez.  That’s happened before.

10:25 – A great play call is executed perfectly by Flynn and John Kuhn and Kuhn finds paydirt.  Collinsworth gives the Packers no credit because a Patriot got chipped down and well, the Patriots are terrific and should never be scored on according to him.  In fact, it was a nice play and a great response to a Flynn pick-six.

11:02 – Brady hits Hernandez for a second major.  The pats get 10 points on 2 fourth quarter drives after running just three 3rd quarter plays.  This one’s slipping away from the now-trailing Packers.

11:15 – Flynn throws a game-clinching intercep…no wait…a flag from the great Ed Hochuli! Illegal hands to the face on Tully Banta Cain, a shot of Hochuli’s league-best first down signal and Flynn is bailed out.

11:26 – Actually, the time to the left should read ‘Midnight’ because Flynn’s chariot turned back into a pumpkin and the final play was uglier than ugly.

The Sunday Nighter was full of surprises, they included:  Flynn’s 3 TDs, James Jones leading the Pack in receiving, Brandon Jackson’s 99 rush yards, and Welker/Branch combining for only 5 catches and 75 yards.  If any of these surprises cost you a spot in the championship, you have my sympathy, but that’s all you’re going to get.  Don’t be the guy complaining about your loss at work tomorrow – spare your co-workers the sob story.

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2nd & 3 – 4 O’clock Focus

Exhausted after 10 games – Cosby happily switches to the easy-to-read format on 2nd down.

DEN @ OAK

- The Tebow show actually gets OK reviews from this critic.  2 touchdowns from the kid (1 rushing 1 passing) and he didn’t look totally out of place over the course of a full NFL game.  A few of Tebow’s rushes looked awful, but that’s to be expected with any rusher – he looked strong on his 40 yard touchdown run.  The receiving corps took an obvious hit with Tebow at the helm, (Brandon Lloyd is the the only ownable option) but his personal fantasy value is in his legs.  His rushing prowess alone gives him a bump over many young QBs and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him performing at a Josh Freeman type level next season.

- Michael Bush got the 10+ touches many expected and converted 2 of them into touchdowns.  Next week’s matchup bodes well for Bush, too.  Darren McFadden looked like a top 10 fantasy player again by chewing up yardage (119 yards on the ground) now if we could only guarantee his health.  Speaking of health, Knowshon Moreno left with a side injury and did not return.  Not sure if it was his left side or his right side or his strong side.  Lance Ball is the handcuff you don’t want to count on (Tebow led the team in rushing).

NYJ @ PIT

- One look at Rashard Mendenhall’s stat line (100 yds, TD) and you’d say the Steelers probably won – they didn’t.

- Hines Ward (2/34) was the only big name receiver that didn’t get his.  Mike Wallace (7/102) and Emmanuel Sanders (7/78) were the main beneficiaries of Roethlisberger’s (264/1) mediocre day.  Braylon Edwards (8/100) and Santonio Holmes (6/40) actually gave something to fantasy owners despite Mark Sanchez (170 yards, 1 rush TD) being reined in again.

ATL @ SEA

- This NFC showdown qualifies as “the game that Cosby did not watch at all…not one minute”.

- The big news is that Charlie Whitehurst (not sure if he still has that ridiculous salad/beard) replaced an ineffective Matt Hasselbeck (2 picks).  Whitehurst’s presence means Lynch (60 yards, TD) and Mike Williams (8/66) are the only ownable Seahawks.

- The fact that Matt Ryan had 3 touchdowns was probably the only reason Michael Turner didn’t get one to go with his 82 yards.

Now that I’ve sufficiently annoyed you with my parentheses (sorry) let’s settle in and see if the Green Bay defence can hold New England in check.  Already saw 2 safeties today, but didn’t see many defensive touchdowns, which is good news for the Packers since they’ll be relying on their defence for the bulk of their scoring.
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1st & 10 – 1 O’clock Thoughts

Finally a 1 O’clock edition with a title that actually applies in real life.  Lots of games to get to so let’s see who’s helping your fake team…

QB

- ***Sarcasm Warning*** Why not start Rex Grossman?  He wasn’t like, awful to watch, or like, a backup QB for 2 years.   ***Shocking Stats Warning*** Grossman ties a career-high with 4 TD passes (he did that before?!?!?) and goes over 300 yards for just the second time in his career.  I forced myself to watch the 4th q of this one and wish I’d seen more of McNabb behind centre earlier in the season so that I could back my conspiracy theory that Son Shanahan sabotaged Donovan.  Would Donovan have led a game-tying drive?  We’ll never know – the Shanahans were too busy evaluating Grossman in that particular 2-minute drill.  He failed (by throwing a game-ending pick).

- ELI MANNING!

- Mike Vick used a second half comeback to make his fantasy owners happy.  4 TDs happy.

- Matt Schaub is not looking forward to the 2nd half.  He’s thrown for no TDs and a pick in his first 20 attempts, and down 21-3 he should see about 30 more tosses.  Kerry Collins’ 2 touchdown strikes helped the Titans pull away.  2 TDs on 54 attempts in the end.

- Don’t worry Ryan Fabro – nobody needed those 2 TDs from Colt McCoy.

- It’s not saying much but Jon Kitna (192/2) is out-playing Rex Grossman (108/1/INT)

- Matt Cassel proved you don’t need an appendix to throw a TD pass.

- Nobody doubted that Peyton Manning would come to play.  He’s got fans in Indy doing the Peyton dance (thank you Kenny Mayne) with his 2 first-half touchdowns.

- Joe Flacco is step for step with Drew Brees so far. The Ravens won but the final score was Brees 3 and Flacco 2.

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

- Ray Rice is running and receiving like the first rounder you reckoned he’d run and receive like when you drafted him.  (2 scores and over 175 total yards)

- Jonathan Stewart continues to run wild – 137 more yards today.

- Weird coincidence of the day:  In a game that went to overtime, LeGarrette Blount rushed 15 times for 110 yards and a TD and his counterpart Maurice Morris rushed 15 times for 109 yards and a TD.  The Lions won.

- Dallas’ backfield will always have a guy with more yards and a different guy with the touchdown.  Those guys are Felix Jones and Tashard Choice respectively.

- Cedric, you’re on.  12 first half carries for 75 yards and a touchdown for Benson. (31 carries, 150 yds, TD).

- Arian Foster’s receiving yards will have to save him on this day.  Only 5 yards on 6 carries in a game that’s gotten away from Houston.

- If Kansas City’s plan was to keep Jamaal Charles fresh for the stretch run, they’re smart and all, but fantasy owners could have used touchdowns like the one he got today over a whole season.  Thomas Jones added a touchdown of his own.

- Nobody saw 8 carries for 80 yards coming from Donald Brown over an entire game, so the fact it came in the first half makes it more shocking.  Nobody saw his 20+ yard TD run in the 2nd half either.

- Somebody gave Ronnie Brown a map to the endzone for Christmas.

WR

- Maybe Santana Moss was lobbying for Rex Grossman to become quarterback.  They’ve hooked up twice.  Anthony Armstrong (5/100) likes Rex too.  I’m going to say Dallas’ 20 point second half lead helped everyone in this offence just a bit.

- Lance Moore really deserved the touchdown he didn’t deserve, if that makes sense.  Video here.

- Jeremy’s spoken!  Two touchdowns for Maclin including a late game-tying score in a great NFC East matchup.

- Quick math:  54 Schaub attempts = Productive days for all Texans receivers = Walter 7/79/1 Johnson 6/58/1 and Jones 7/50

- Don’t worry about Mike Sims-Walker’s 2 scores on your bench.  You didn’t want to play him, honest.

- Welcome back to the fold Stevie Johnson.  6 catches for 69 yards and 1 of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 2 TDs.

- A triumphant return for Austin Collie (2 TDs) might be marred by another disturbing departure (see Banged Up).

- Who puts the Manning in the Manningham?  Eli does.  He and Mario have hooked up twice for touchdowns.  Hakeem Nicks has the other.

- Mike Williams (TB) doesn’t understand that rookies aren’t supposed to have seasons like his in terms of fantasy production.  Another TD and a 75+ yard day.

- Larry Fitzgerald (9/125) did his best to keep Jay Feely from being the Cardinals’ fantasy MVP for a second straight week.

- I can see for Miles and he’s already seen the endzone.  Austin on the receiving end of one of Kitna’s TD passes.

- Nate Washington and Justin Gage each have one catch.  Each catch was good for a score.  Kenny Britt should go over 100 yards easily on this day.  Randy Moss isn’t in the box score.

- The Dolphins are getting it to their playmakers, Brandon Marshall already has 5 catches. Final line:  11/106/1.

- The Lions are getting it to their playmakers, Calvin Johnson already has 6 catches and over 100 yards.  Final line: 10/152.

TE

- Cooley must have also gone behind McNabb’s back as he’s caught a TD from Grossman.  Man, this McNabb guy is getting disrespected.

- Kevin Boss joined the second half tight end touchdown parade.  Brent Celek joined in from 65 yards out.

- Ben Watson’s leading the Browns in receiving with McCoy at the helm (in the first half).

- Jason Witten you were supposed to have a good day.  6/85/1 is a good start bud.  Final line of 10/140/1.

- How do you replace Todd Heap?  If you’re Ed Dickson you catch 2 passes for 33 yards and a score in the first half.  Jimmy Graham has outdone him for the Saints – hauling in 2 Drew Brees touchdowns.

Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- For once a Tim Hightower fumble was good for the Cards.  Steve Breaston recovered it for a touchdown.  You’re supposed to get the touchdowns Lieutenant Hightower…ya, not fumble…touchdown…ya.

- Tyjuan Hagler showed the importance of a good onside kick.  He iced the Colts victory by returning Josh Scobee’s onside try for a major.

- Mike Thomas better be extremely deliberate on his fair catch calls the rest of the day.  If he’s not the Colts will hammer him as they’ve already been burned for a TD by Thomas’ almost-fair-catch signal.

- Karma caught up to Mike Thomas in the 3rd quarter.  He did as I advised and deliberately signalled a fair catch – but his own player knocked a Colt into him.  Thomas would fumble the punt and gift the Colts a field goal.

Banged Up

- The Terrell Owens show is briefly off the air.  I was waiting for him to update his injury on Twitter, but the broadcast beat him to it, he left early in the first quarter with a knee injury and won’t return.

- Collie got hit awkwardly for a 3rd time this season and left with what appeared to be a head injury.  Tough does not even begin to describe the year he’s had or the kind of young man he is.

GET THE HECK OUTTA DODGE!  The Giants punter (Matt Dodge) just got berated on national television by Tom Coughlin for actually kicking to DeSean Jackson with :12 seconds left.  It looked like a good idea initially as Jackson bobbled it, but then the clown (I’ll explain) picked it up and took it the distance for the game-winning score.  I call Jackson a clown because he already has a reputation and because he raised the ball in celebration at the Giants’ 30 yard line.  Maybe he was worried about screwing it up at the goal line or something.  Either way, it saved a pretty mediocre day for Jackson and gave the 4 o’clock games a tough task if they plan on matching the drama we’ve already seen.

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The Coin Toss

Top of the morning TO YOU! (Exclamation point because this marks semi-final Sunday for many.)  I’m here and ready to take any lineup questions (in the comments section).  The first post will be up in a few minutes.  It will feature Tebow talk, Joe Webb (as a possible wideout play) and a list of running backs to consider instead of Adrian Peterson (imagine sitting that guy, wow)…

RB – Hey yo Adrian?

If there’s one thing fantasy owners detest, it’s the unknown.  Without question, Adrian Peterson’s playing environment Monday night is the Superunknown.  Unlike the Soundgarden album, Monday’s elements aren’t awesome music to the ears of A.P. owners.  Temperatures around -10 Celsius and a field he’s never played on, all while getting the ball from a guy who’s never handed it to him.  Choosing any of these guys (Jones-Drew, Turner, McFadden, Foster, CJ, Hillis, McCoy, Ste-Jack, Charles – in that order) in favour of All-Day is a no-brainer (and you’re fortunate to have 2 backs on that list to go with Peterson).  Other dudes who this guy thinks have higher upside than Peterson are as follows (again in order – Moreno, J-Stew, Torain, Blount, Hightower and Jacobs).  Apologies to those without a back on either list, that being said, you’re still not in awful shape with Peterson in your lineup – he’ll definitely have plenty of opportunities (easily 20+ carries) to contribute to your Week 15 fantasy totals.

WR – Minnesota’s Webb

It’s about time we had a dual-eligibility player rise to the fantasy surface.  Joe Webb, the guy who will be handing the ball to the freakishly-good running back we addressed above, is that player.  Opportunities always mark a fantasy advantage, so everyone’s in love with the fact that Webb is a receiver that will have the ball in his hands on every play.  So he’s a shoo-in WR3 play, right?  Not necessarily.  I urge you to check your scoring settings.  If passing yards are worth as much as receiving yards then yes, Webb is a good play (not many receivers will reach 150 receiving yards as easily as a quarterback gets 150 through the air).  However, if say, you get a point for every 25 passing yards compared to a point for just 10 receiving yards, I wouldn’t be so quick to slide Webb into your lineup.  Most importantly, there’s no guarantee Webb gets a TD, so if you have a receiver who’ll rack up some yards and also has a chance to score, I’d take the receiver instead.

QB – Tebow or not Tebow?

Probably not.  Especially now that Matt Cassel is active and will start.  Tebow will also be facing the only tough weather conditions on this week’s docket as they’re forecasting what The Chef (good nickname for Adam Schefter?) called monsoon-like conditions in Oakland.  Tebow’s one advantage is that the Raiders have minimal game tape on him, he’s like a backup entering part of the way through the game and those lucky QBs tend to have more success.  That advantage alone makes Tebow a better play than Fitzpatrick, Grossman, and Sanchez.

Some snow for Green Bay just popped up on the Doppler radar so DEN/OAK won’t be the only game affected by the weather.  Not that the snow will affect Tom Brady, he outperformed most of the QBs I suggested last week.  Other than that, The Coin Toss went pretty well in Week 14, here’s hoping Week 15 is also a winning week for you.

Sunday Driving: Week 14

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

3rd & Short – Sunday Night Knowledge

The guys in NY got their man!  The Jets are pegging their Strength and Conditioning Coach, Sal Alosi, as the guy who tripped the Dolphins’ Nolan Carroll (video here).  Nicely done, Sal.  What does this guy think he’s at a 1960′s CFL game or something?  Was he hoping to take the last ball while the Jets were ahead so that they’d have to call the game, too?  Unreal.  Several players in the Eagles/Cowboys game chose to follow Alosi’s lead and perform some doltish acts of their own.  Here’s a list of those players, their fantasy numbers and their dim-witted antics.

DeSean Jackson – 4/210/1

- DeSean tops the list thanks to his decision to take the Nestea plunge over the goal line at the end of his 91 yard catch and run.  Jackson was clearly giving it to the Cowboys.  Hearing several commentators question the the excessive celebration flag on the play gives me cause for concern (you’re supposed to be the ones paying the most attention…that’s why you’re the ones who get paid).

Jon Kitna – 242 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs

- Kitna is one of those guys who is cursed that a camera is always on him.  His facial expressions are priceless.

Tashard Choice – 33 total yards

- Choice became another victim of the non-stop camera coverage.  He followed a dismal effort by asking the QB (Vick) who just beat him to autograph his glove at midfield.  I’m still laughing (it doesn’t matter when you’re reading this, the laughter continues).

Michael Vick – 286 yds, 3 TDs, 2 INTs

- Vick’s poor decisions are well-documented.  Tonight his only mistake was being interviewed ahead of DeSean Jackson, who acted like a lame American Idol contestant in the background.  Keep being good, Mike.  Keep being good.

- Jason Witten had 2 touchdowns but I couldn’t pick out anything he did that deserved ridicule.  Even if I’d seen something I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it, only because Witten resembles that kid in high school that you didn’t want to upset because he was always so quiet and seemed a bit misunderstood (and Witten’s also much bigger than me).  LeSean McCoy (149 rush yards) and Felix Jones (41 yds, 1 TD) round out the list of the guys who got it done while avoiding the fool’s spotlight.

The unfortunate truth is that the DeSeans of the world are perhaps as good for the league as the Wittens and McCoys.  One positive on that is that as long as they’re around I know I’ll have plenty of fodder for this bloggification.  See you next week.

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2nd & 6 – 4 O’clock Focus

Mother Nature’s so powerful she altered the format for this next section – more of a quick-hitter approach to help get you through the storm and move on to the Sunday Nighter…

Rockets (3+ Scores)

- The names Alex Smith and 3-Score Guy fit together like Hudson and Rodriguez – it seems odd but you have to just accept it and assume it’s right.  San Diego and St Louis await the ‘Niners pivot so that relationship won’t last for Smith either.

- The name Drew Brees and the name 3-Score Guy – now that makes sense…like Russell and Hawn.

Spirals (2 Scores)

- Philip Rivers hit Malcom Floyd twice. Floyd was still the most targeted receiver despite the presence of Vincent Jackson.

- Tom Brady’s hair had a good day considering the tough conditions.  He tossed 2 scores and amassed 369 yards in the blizzard.

- Multiple scores aren’t the norm for Marques Colston but his owners will take them in the first week of the post-season.

- Tim Hightower fumbled, nothing strange there.  Tim Hightower running for 148 yards and 2 TDs, now that’s just bizarre.

- Matt Hasselbeck wishes he could reverse his 4 picks that went with 2 touchdowns.

Shovel passes (1 Score and other guys who did enough to be mentioned)

- Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews (yes that’s the correct spelling) each got 16 carries and a score.  The Chargers had 21 more rush attempts than Brodie Croyle had pass attempts in San Diego’s 31-0 victory.

- Rob Gronkowski and Deion Branch got on the receiving end of Brady’s touchdowns.  Welker chipped in 8 for 115, so much for the snow.

- The rotation cost Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis his touchdown.  After BJGE did all of the heavy lifting, Danny Woodhead bounced into the endzone while he spelled Green-Ellis on first and goal.  Too bad, because a score would have gone nicely with Ben-Jarvus’ 87 yards.

- Don’t be alarmed at this news – Brandon Marshall remembered the location of the endzone.  Chad Henne delivered said touchdown, which is the only reason he’s mentioned here.  Henne’s 55 yards on just 17 attempts were enough for the victory but not enough in the fake game.  The way the Dolphins are committing to the run it’s tough to consider Henne going forward.

- Injuries opened the door for Deon Butler and Ruvell Martin to grab TDs.  Their value depends completely on the health of Mike Williams and Ben Obamanu.

- Brian Westbrook, Josh Morgan and Vernon Davis (no shock) caught the majors from Alex Smith.  It should be noted Anthony Dixon outcarried Westbrook 14 to 9.  Westbrook’s involvement in the passing game is where his value lies.

- Sam Bradford got the short touchdown not Steven Jackson.  Jackson (134 total yards) deserved it.  Bradford (18/32, 231 yds, 2 INTs) did not.

- Lance Moore (5/70/1) wasn’t affected by Reggie Bush’s presence.

- Larry Fitzgerald confirmed he’s still a freak by finding a way to catch 6 balls thrown by John Skelton for 72 yards.

- The Broncos got demolished but Knowshon Moreno stood as a pillar of 103 yards and 1 touchdown worth of strength.

Lame Ducks

- Jay Cutler, and his Lloyd Christmas haircut, probably wishes he was skiing in the snow with Mary Swanson instead of throwing for only 152 yards and doling out two interceptions.

- When it comes to putting the ball on the ground 4 times and tossing it to the Dolphins once, Mark Sanchez should try and Milli Vanilli it.  He didn’t look good for a second straight week though, and has a difficult sked to finish out the fantasy season, look elsewhere.

- Kyle Orton was 3 interceptions bad but I’d still be surprised to see Tim Tebow behind centre this week.  His awfulness directly impacted Brandon Lloyd.

Even more incredible than the video of the Metrodome collapse was the shot of the dude from the Jets who was standing on the sideline and appeared to stick his knee out and trip the Dolphins’ Nolan Carroll as he charged downfield to cover a punt.  Even more incredible than that, we still don’t know the dude’s name – hopefully Sunday Night Football (and the ensuing blog you’ll see in this space) will have all of the answers…

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1st & 6 – 1 O’clock Thoughts

The Metrodome talk was over until … this.  There’s a very good possibility that nothing that occurs today will be as extraordinary as that footage, but this is the NFL after all.

QB

- Drew Stanton is out to prove he can single-handedly ruin a football game.  2 picks and 21 yards in his first 9 attempts.  His only touchdown was to Will Heller.  Also of note:  It was the only touchdown in the game and the Lions beat the Packers 7-3.

- Carson Palmer has 2 touchdowns – one to an offensive lineman (those make hilarious highlights but aren’t the best for those with fantasy investment in WRs and RBs) and the other to Troy Polamalu (not the best result either).  Carson was kind enough to add another pick-6 – this one to Woodley.

- Could this be the week Donovan McNabb tosses multiple touchdowns?  He has one…stay tuned!  McNabb did get his 2nd TD – he needed until the :09 second mark to get it and is probably glad Mike Shanahan was in charge of the timeouts on the 2 minute drill.

- In a battle of guys you may have had to start to avoid the snow bowl in Chicago later – Campbell and Garrard already have a pair of touchdowns each.

RB

- MICHAEL TURNER!

- DARREN MCFADDEN!  Unfortunately for Michael Bush owners DMC had both of Oakland’s rushing touchdowns – when he’s hot Cable will ride McFadden so maybe I shouldn’t have been as high on Bush (who got just 5 carries).

-  Derf Jackson wasn’t supposed to get 29 carries.  Tough not to break 100 yards with that many totes.  Cleveland did keep him out of the endzone as expected.

- The comments section is now accepting nicknames for Ryan Torain.  An early front-runner is The ‘Torain-tula’.  The Bucs have submitted ‘Worst Nightmare’, ‘Beast’ and ‘The Humiliator’ as Torain racked up close to 160 first half yards.  Record books beware.  Or not - he finished with 172 yards on 24 carries – that’s still pretty good.

- The box score shows Peyton Hillis is having the kind of day a lead back should against Buffalo though he’s yet to find paydirt.  Hillis finished with 108 yards and didn’t cross the plain.

- Jonathan Stewart has more carries but Mike Goodson has the touchdown.  Michael Turner should have a big day against the Panthers.  Stewart finished with 133 yards on the ground – pretty good in a lopsided loss.

WR

- Roddy White did everything but score.

- The Jags D probably had the most to with the fact that Louis Murphy ended up with 50+ yards and a touchdown.  Tough to endorse a Raiders receiver each week.

- Santana Moss (7/82/1) continues to quietly put together a good season (for him anyway).

- MegaTron owners lucked out in that his only catch was for 44 yards.

- Ochocinco took back the spotlight, actually it was more like a 60 watt bulb, with his 6/71 day.  T.O. had 1 catch for 22 yards in the loss.

- Hines Ward is on his way to a bounce back week.  (5 for 78 early on – a week late for my fantasy team)

TE

- Kellen Winslow caught Josh Freeman’s only TD pass.

- You could do worse than Marcedes Lewis who had a score today.

- Andrew Quarless becomes a curious add in PPR formats if Matt Flynn is forced to start.

- Tony Gonzalez already has one major in Carolina.  (a week late for my fantasy team)

Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- Hunter Smith was supposed to handle that high snap.  He didn’t.  The Redskins needed that extra point with :09 seconds left because it would have tied the game.  He’ll probably Milli Vanilli it (you know, Blame it on the Rain). Washington’s awful season continues.

- Didn’t think I’d be able to update you on the weather in Buffalo (game blacked out) but Roommate 1 caught a highlight during halftime and had this – “It looks good”.

Banged Up

- Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion and the severity will remain unknown as NFL rules make it impossible for him to return anyway – words do not sum up what a blow this is to any fantasy team.

- Ben Roethlisberger got twisted under Clinton McDonald as the Bengals continue their assault on the Steelers’ QB.  It was Ben’s bad foot but he stayed in the game.

Are you ready for some Snowball!  After recommending the benching of Cutler or Brady in favour of some guys in better weather, I was happy to see what an absolute mess it is in Chicago – don’t adjust your antennas (antenni?) folks – that blizzard is what the players will have to put up with all afternoon as well.

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The Coin Toss

For the latest on the biggest news on this fantasy playoff Sunday (for many of you) – let’s send it here.  Now, some background on that developing story.  First, Mother Nature pushed the Giants/Vikings tilt to Monday night.  Now, by dropping 17 inches of snow on the Metrodome roof, she’s moved the NFC showdown to Ford Field (still on Monday night).  I couldn’t get a hold of a meteorologist from 680NEWS (shameless plug to the sister station), but the internet tells me Vikings/Giants won’t be the only game affected by the elements.  Bengals/Steelers, Browns/Bills, Falcons/Panthers and Dolphins/Jets will all be played under fog/mist or in the rain.  Last but obviously not least, the Pats and Bears will do battle during a blizzard that is expected to envelope Soldier Field.  Snow is not the worst news, but wind most certainly is, and that’s also in the forecast for Chicago (shocking, I know).  You’ll want to take all of these details (mostly the wind/snow) into account as you prepare for your championship run.  With more on matchup choices involving all of the crap you just read…here’s…Me…go ahead Me…

QB – Who to play ahead of Tom Brady or Jay Cutler

- As mentioned on Saturday’s show – we’ve all seen Brady handle the snow – it’s the wind that could pose the biggest problem in Chi-town.  Inserting Joe Flacco (@ HOU), Big Ben (vs. Cin) or even Kyle Orton (@ ARZ) in Brady’s lineup slot is recommended, but those are the only options aside from the usual top tier QBs.  When it comes to Cutler, don’t hesitate to replace him with any of the dudes listed above, or any of the following:  Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Jon Kitna (who gets a bump with Asante Samuel out), Josh Freeman, Carson Palmer or David Garrard.

RB – How does it affect Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis?

- Poor visibility may keep you from seeing all of BJGE’s capital letters, but playing in a winter wonderland should give him plenty of opportunities to make his presence felt.  Not only that, I see Cutler struggling enough to let the Pats out to a lead – leaving the Patriots’ lead rusher to salt away the ice and the clock.  Yes, the Chicago defence is stout, but slippery fields lend the advantage to the one making the cuts, so go ahead and start Green-Ellis ahead of Mike Tolbert, Chris Ivory, Derf Jackson and Tashard Choice.

WR – Should you play Steve Smith (NYG) and his pectoral?

- As Smith owners have learned over the past couple of weeks, he and his pectoral are a package deal, either they both play or they both sit out.  With the game moved to Ford Field – that package will have done a lot of traveling over the past three days.  Though listed as questionable, all signs point to Smith playing and his offence gets a boost now that they don’t have to face a raucous crowd at the Metrodome.  It’s a shame you won’t know for sure until Monday night, but in PPR leagues I think it’s safe to roll with Smith and expect a 5 to 7 catch effort with 75+ yards (especially with the return of Hakeem Nicks assuming he travels well).  With that, it’s time for Me to run down the (poor results in the) Accountability Section before sending it back to the desk…

Accountability Section: Week 13

Benson vs. Ivory – Cosby’s Call: Ivory (flip) It was Ivory – Benson (49/2) Ivory (117/2)

Sanchez vs. Flacco – Cosby’s Call: Sanchez (flip) It was Flacco – Sanchez (164/3 INT) Flacco (266/1)

Dez vs. Knox – Cosby’s Call: Knox (flip) It was Knox – Bryant (1/14) Knox (3/34) … Ick

Nice work, Me.  That does it for a crazy Sunday morning of news.  Good luck and stay classy.

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.

For instant Sunday Fantasy Updates follow Zach on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/thecozbyshow

Sunday Driving: Week 13

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

3rd & Short – Sunday Night Knowledge

Don’t read this section of the blog – you won’t like it.  The reason?  I watched the Ravens play the Steelers with my fantasy season on the line – I didn’t like it.  In keeping with the theme, here’s a list of the fantasy notables you watched/could have watched – and why you wouldn’t have liked it.

Hines Ward - 1 catch for 13 yards.  Out-targeted by Emmanuel Sanders.  Ya, the Steelers won but you would have thought they’d want to get their big receiver the ball.

Ray Rice - Unless you get fantasy points for picking up blitzes, the Ravens running back from Rutgers put forth a disappointing effort.  It wasn’t really by any fault of his own, the coaches (as has been the case the majority of this season) just had trouble finding ways to involve Rice when he wasn’t held in to block.

Rashard Mendenhall - Guy couldn’t reach 50 yards despite 19 carries.

Ben Roethlisberger – He did play through an ugly nose injury and whatever was wrong with his foot.  That aside, his best play was stiff-arming Terrell Suggs long enough to throw a left-handed incomplete pass and avoid intentional grounding.  Honourable mention to the fact that his only touchdown pass went to Isaac Redman instead of somebody who actually HAD a spot in fantasy lineups.

Willis McGahee - He not only poached carries from Ray Rice, he looked awful on his futile attempts to find any space in the Pittsburgh defence. (Note the bias of a Rice owner)

Todd Heap – Left after injuring his hamstring on the first play of the game (Not blaming the guy that’s just what happened).

Joe Flacco – Watch the replay of his final throw of the game.

You’ll notice that Mike Wallace (5/76/0) and Anquan Boldin (5/118/1) didn’t make the list.  Proud we are of both of them for producing in the crunch for their fantasy owners.  My 3 guys managed to trim my deficit from -27 to -26 heading into Monday Night.  The more I think about it, I shouldn’t be bitter, I should be thankful that I even had the opportunity to battle for a playoff spot as late as Week 13.  Fine…I’m thankful – but I don’t like it.

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2nd & 5 – 4 O’clock Focus

After that wave of early games, the Sunday Nighter can’t get here fast enough.  In the meantime, let’s see what happened in the second wave of action…

QB

- 4 more picks for Peyton.  That doesn’t seem right.  Please don’t bench him (not you, Jim Caldwell, I know that would be outrageous, I’m talking to fantasy owners).

- Just searched John Skelton after learning he plays quarterback for the Cardinals.  Derek Anderson (who cares a lot about this) never wanted America to meet Mr. Skelton.  I’m glad I don’t own any Cardinals.

- Through 3 quarters all of the 4 o’clock quarterbacks combined to throw 6 touchdowns and 12 interceptions – temper your expectations if you have one of them.

RB

- MARSHAWN LYNCH!

- Mike Tolbert had trouble getting 10 carries, so it’s not as shocking that Ryan Mathews had none.

- Michael Bush should be owned universally.  Oakland’s weak sked, coupled with his good day today and the fact that the Raiders will lean on both their backs makes Bush a good choice (Americans aren’t used to hearing that) the rest of the way.

- Speaking of choices, Tashard is another you’d like to pick off the waiver wire.

- Pierre Garcon almost led the Colts in rushing until  Javarris James had 2 touchdowns (while in nobody’s lineup).

- Is everything going to be all right?  There isn’t a natural disaster pending or anything?  I only ask because Tim Hightower rushed for 75+ yards without fumbling and Steven Jackson found the endzone.

- Jonathan Stewart is back – he doubled Mike Goodson in carries but both crossed the goal line.  Expect Stewart to be the main man the rest of the way.

- Congratulations to LeGarrette Blount who gouged a great run defence for over 100 yards and a score.

WR

- Reggie Wayne becomes the first receiver in NFL history to grab 14 balls for 200 yards and 1 touchdown and still have a crucial drop.  Pierre Garcon chipped in nicely (8/56/1) and it seems that he and Blair White will alternate good weeks the same way Garcon and Austin Collie have done in the past.

- Seriously, don’t sit the Buccaneers’ Mike Williams.  Yes, his touchdown today came against a weak Falcons secondary, but you can do much worse than Williams no matter what his matchup.

TE

- Pencil Antonio Gates in for a touchdown every week he plays.  Don’t do the same for Jason Witten, but he’s scoring more often and recorded a crucial major in Indy.

Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- On a scale of 1 to 10, rate how awful overtime is for fantasy owners?  It’s a 12 if your opponent owns a player on each team.  A -2 if you’re my opponent, I guess.  Thankfully I came away from the Colts/Cowboys game unscathed.

Banged Up

- Dez Bryant fractured his ankle.  It will be interesting to see how his absence affects the Cowboys’ offence in the weeks to come.  Roy Williams becomes a matchup play.

- Tony Gonzalez got hurt late, not much news coming from the Falcons camp.

Something tells me that the first 14 games were just a feeling-out period helping NFL fans get ready for the two outstanding matchups that remain.  I got all I could ask for as my squad stayed within striking distance with a few guys going tonight.  For those who don’t have any Ravens/Steelers (and in honour of Green Bay’s Pac-man jerseys) here’s a little Sunday Night Football throwback to make up for it.  Football!

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1st & 8 – 1 O’clock Thoughts

Never thought I’d be focussing on a late-season Broncos/Chiefs matchup – fantasy makes us do some crazy stuff.  With only Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs’ D going in the early games, that will be my main channel.  If I knew who you had playing at 1 o’clock I’d turn my attention there – but I don’t – so how’s about I just keep track of ALL of the relevant fantasy news?  Deal?…Deal.

QB

- Drew Brees (2) and Aaron Rodgers (3) shrugged off the cold and made sure almost everyone got theirs.

- Maybe Jake Delhomme (1 pick) paid Chad Henne (3 picks) for an ego boost.

- Eli Manning fell victim to 4 New York rushing scores.

- Ryan Fitzpatrick (4/9, INT) isn’t doing much better than the injured (more in Banged Up) Brett Favre (0/1, INT).

-  156/1 from Aaron Rodgers is a fantastic first half line considering it’s at Lambeau.  Drew Brees is doing all right in the cold, too.

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

- Adrian Peterson’s ankle is at least 2 touchdowns OK.  Wait, it’s 3 touchdowns OK.

- ***WAIVER ADD ALERT*** James Starks is out-carrying Brandon Jackson 6 to 1.  While John Kuhn has the touchdown and they play in a pass-happy offence, he and Starks could be interesting adds for a fantasy playoff stretch that includes visits to the Lions and the Patriots.

- Oh you didn’t Knowshown Moreno benefitted from Kyle Orton being shut down by the Chiefs.  The former Bulldog easily went over 100 yards and went on to have a career day.

- Cedric Benson had what this fantasy pundit believes will be his last big week of the season.  2 scores as the Bengals shocked the world by hanging with the Saints.

- Chester Taylor must have heard me call him out.  His 1 yard plunge is a kick to the groin for Forte owners.  Forte made it all better by finding the endzone himself.

- Who needs Pierre Thomas?  Not the Saints.  Chris Ivory proving it with a 55 yard scamper to paydirt.  He’d add a 2nd-half score.

- Nobody is more happy than yours truly that the Giants have their tank that is Brandon Jacobs rolling again.  Why?  ‘Cause we can all get back to saying his name the way it’s meant to be said “BRANDON JACOBS!!!”  He’s destroying the ‘Skins, and has even allowed Ahmad Bradshaw in on the touchdown act.  Maybe we should be yelling “AHMAD BRADSHAW!!!” since he’s now hit painted grass for a second time.  Bradshaw’s 25 carries prove he’s back in the good books.

WR

- Does the guy who takes care of the “Randy Moss – Thrown To – Receptions” graphic have the most boring job in the production truck?  The Titans are trying to make it so.

- You can’t choose when the matchup rule applies for a receiver – but the Chiefs chose not to go at Champ Bailey and Dwayne Bowe suffered big time.

- James Brown may have overstated it when he called Donald Driver’s 61 yard touchdown effort “one of the highlights of the year”, but Driver did a great job of shedding several tacklers on his way in.

- Safe to say Sidney Rice is back.  Check the highlight of his first touchdown catch of the season as soon as you get a chance.  He added another TD catch before the half was out.

- Calvin Johnson should have a reality show where he goes across North America to see if he can find someone who can’t throw him a touchdown pass.  Over/under on the number of seasons they’d get out of that is 9.5

- Derek Hagan isn’t affected by the Giants run-first approach – Mario Manningham is (catchless in the first half).

- The cold hasn’t affected Greg Jennings (4/73/1). He added a 2nd-half score.

- The chemistry that was so hyped between Earl Bennett and Jay Cutler is coming to the forefront.  Bennett’s being targeted enough to be a fringe play no matter what the matchup.

TE

- My dear Watson!  Benjamin with 10 catches for 101 yards and a score.  A Brown finally overshadowing Peyton Hillis.

- No doubt it is inappropriate to direct expletives at a guy named Pope.  You’re excused if you’re a Tony Moeaki owner who saw the other Chiefs tight end, Leonard Pope, catch the short TD from Cassel.

- “Troy Smith passed to Vernon Davis to the right for 66 yard gain.”  That saves a tough first half for the ‘Niners.

Hi-jinx/Shenanigans/Other Nonsense

- How awkward is it for Josh McDaniels’ Dad while he stands amongst the players on the sidelines?  Does he have a role?  Is he giving input?  Bizarre.

- What a sequence in the Chiefs game.  Jamaal Charles has a touchdown negated by an illegal formation flag on Tony Moeaki (Cosby loses it).  2 plays later, Barry Richardson gets called to the sideline for jumping before the snap (Richardson loses it).  Cassel is sacked for a 13-yard loss on 4th and Goal (replay of Richardson losing it – special teams coach who confronted Richardson needs a change of underwear).

- Lord knows how Jeff Reed celebrated his signing with the 49ers.  On the field, Reed wasted no time pounding a six-pack on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

- Dear cable company, I understand that you can’t show every football game in HD.  On second thought, I don’t understand that, but if you do have to show me games in standard definition, why do you have to package them so they look like a little postcard on my TV?

Banged Up

- Favre.  Shoulder injury early.  Did not return.  There, that was as quickly as I could address our man Brett.  Tarvaris Jackson is the one to talk about here.  As I listed last week – the Vikings face three stingy pass defences over the next three weeks.  Don’t expect Jackson to be high on the QB ranks, but he does have a couple of great weapons (connected with Rice for 2 scores).  Adrian Peterson owners easily benefit from Favre’s absence.

- Of course, because he’s my only positional player, Jamaal Charles goes down hard out of bounds.  Dexter McCluster followed that by losing a fumble and getting crushed under the pile.  Not a good sequence for the Chiefs.  It got better though as Charles wouldn’t miss time.

Couldn’t be happier that a national audience probably saw the finish of the Bengals loss to the Saints. As a member of Who Dey Nation it’s almost impossible to explain what it’s like to watch Cincinnati make so many mental errors, so that first-hand look should help you understand (Call TIMEOUT! YOU HAVE A TIMEOUT!).  Does chinese delivery count as comfort food?  Hope Marvin Lewis doesn’t somehow end up taking my order…

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The Coin Toss

I’m busting!  I’m busting!  No, my parents aren’t moving to Del Boca Vista (although this morning’s snow may have them considering it), I’m ecstatic thanks to Matt Schaub.  As recently as 3 weeks ago it would have been a shock to see that written by a fantasy owner, but Schaub almost matched Michael Vick on Thursday night.  Schaub’s 2 TDs and 300+ yards have set the stage for an exciting Sunday in my must-win matchup, a Sunday that seems like it took forever to get here.  If your playoff berth is on the line I’m sure you’re not only anxious for kick-off, but by the sounds of Saturday’s show, you’re nervous about a few lineup decisions as well.  Here’s a few we didn’t touch on…

RB

Cedric Benson (vs. NO) vs. Chris Ivory (@ CIN)

Last week’s 2 TD performance tells us Chris Ivory isn’t ready to quit football and become a popstar (an occupation for which he is so appropriately named) just yet.  With Pierre Thomas ruled out for yet another week, Ivory’s a good bet to find the endzone again.  With a slew of stout run Ds on the Bengals’ docket, including this week against the Saints, Cedric may want to consider a career in entertainment.  A tough match-up, coupled with the fact that Cincy could fall behind quickly, means you want to give Benson a seat.  Ivory’s the call.

QB

Mark Sanchez (@ NE) vs. Joe Flacco (vs. PIT)

We talked a lot yesterday about how difficult it is to bench a guy who’s playing in primetime.  It’s the only game on so you’re going to see everything they do (can be fun).  If they’re on your bench, you have to root against them (not fun).  On top of all that, stars tend to shine a little brighter, fantasy or otherwise, when they’re playing under the lights (fun for them).  Since both of the above quarterbacks are playing in exclusive timeslots, you have to break it down based on matchup.  New England is very generous to opposing passers, Sanchez being one of them with his 3 TDs in Week 2.  Flacco had just 1 score in his previous battle with Pittsburgh’s D.  While the Steelers’ one million blitzes won’t turn Joe into Shane Falco (the Sugar Bowl version – before he gets the girl), their footsteps will do enough to make Sanchez the call.

WR

Dez Bryant (@ IND) vs. Johnny Knox (@ DET)

Bryant apparently tweaked his ankle in practice Friday.  Before the tweakage (not a word) I wasn’t very high on Bryant because defences are starting to key on the Cowboys’ stud.  Throw in the fact that I expect Knox to go off today thanks to Cutler’s improved play, and Knox is the call.  In fact, I’d rank Larry Fitzgerald, Miles Austin and Mike Wallace behind Knox in Week 13.

It’s the first week of December so it’s time to start monitoring the Sunday weather forecast.  While there will be a dusting of snow in Cincinnati, it appears Mother Nature won’t have a significant fantasy impact for at least one more week and will make way for an awesome finish to the fantasy regular season.  Thanks be to her…

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.

For instant Sunday Fantasy Updates follow Zach on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/thecozbyshow

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