Friday, September 30, 2005

NFL FANTASY "WEEK 4 START AND SIT"

Week 4 "Start and Sit"

"MUST START QUARTERBACKS"

Peyton Manning: Those owners who took the prolific Signal Caller with the 1st overall pick are regretting that decision. It's Week 4, and Manning's thrown for a scant 604 yards and a mere 2 TDs. Look, the guy's gotta' break out of this slump at some point... right? I mean... he's Peyton Manning. The Colts have again leapt out of the gate and are 3-0. The reason for the jump-start isn't attributable to the teams' record-setting offense, however. No, the Colts are 3-0 because the team fields the stingiest D in the league. Last season, with unpleasant regularity, Manning would drive his team downfield and drop a 6-spot on his opponent... only to hop back into his helmet due to the team's defensive anemia. Look for Manning and the boys to get rolling, the skill po'players are far too talented. The Tennessee Secondary has allowed an average of 215 passing yards per game, placing them a middle of the pack 16th league-wide. Look for the Titan's 21st ranked run D to struggle with physical Edgerring James, and allow Peyton to pick 'em apart.

Tom Brady: This week, Tom Terrific and compatriots draw a San Diego Charger team that allowed Peyton's lil' bro to hang 350+ yards on 'em. While Giant receiver Plaxico Burress may be taller and more talented than any of the Patriot pass catchers... Brady certainly has more receiving options open to him. The Pats' need RB Corey Dillon to it into gear. While Dillon's racked up the TDs (4), he's averaging a paltry 53 rushing yards per game. If he can finally break a few, the Pat passing game will, of course, benefit. As things stand now, look for a "very Brady Sunday;" 225 yards and 2-3 TDs.

Carson Palmer: Carson's comfortably at the helm of a 3-0 Bengal team; a team that is enjoying its best start in 15 years. The team could... should, be 4-0 come Sunday night. This week they face a Houston Texan team that is in such utter disarray... they actually resemble Bengal teams old! Palmer is playing as if he believes himself to be the league's best Quarterback... and at this point, aside from some heroic play from Donovan McNabb... Palmer HAS been the most productive Signal Caller. Through 3 games, Cin' city's favorite Football son has thrown for almost 800 yards and 8 TDs. Look for Carson and Chad (WR Johnson, averaging 102 receiving yards per game) to enjoy another Sunday afternoon pitch and catch. Fellow pass catchers T.J Houshman-REALLYhatetospellhisname and the fast-emerging Chris Henry are also excellent plays against a Houston defense that has allowed foes to hang almost 4 TDs a game on 'em.

Marc Bulger: It used to be that Kurt Warner served as steward to the "Greatest Show on Turf." But, Kurt turned from "Captain Courageous" to "Captain Can't Clutch-a-Ball" over the course of a single season, and the team discovered that it had something pretty good in their young backup. That backup, Marc Bulger, is now firmly in command of a still highly explosive Ram passing game. This season, Bulger's thrown for at least 215 yards and a TD in each game, he's thrown multiple scores in 2 of the 3 games, and he’s on pace for a 4,000+/30+ campaign. It would be his best season yet. Let's look no further than Week 4, however, where Bulger is forced to confront the Giants on their own hostile Meadowlands turf. The G-Men were humiliated by the San Diego Chargers last week when they surrendered a downright stupid 192 rushing yards and 3 TDs to RB LaDainian Tomlinson, and 192 passing yards and a pair of scores to QB Drew Brees. Well... 192 yards? That sounds pretty good you say... legitimizing the 2 scoring strikes with the logic that NY was looking for Tomlinson and not the pass. Consider that Brees attempted 22 passes, connected on 19, and 1 of the Incs’ was a drop! Peeps’, that’s eye-popping accuracy. However, some of the credit… or discredit as it were, must go to the Giant pass defense. If Brees, Keenan McCardell and Gates can dismantle NY’s defensive backfield… what will a pass-happy St. Louis’ O do? With the exception of leviathan TE Antonio Gates, the Bolt pass catchers don’t approach the Ram receivers in terms of talent, and the Giant Secondary will be missing experienced CB Will Peterson (probably done for the year with a back fracture). Bulger and Holt should hook up at least twice, and although savvy vet receiver Isaac Bruce is sidelined with a painful toe injury, the teams’ #3, Kevin Curtis, is a more than capable fill-in. With RB Steven Jackson compromised by bruised ribs, Marshall Faulk will see carries AND catches… Faulk and Bulger work well together. Any way you slice it, Sunday should be a productive passing day for the Rams.

“HONORABLE MENTION”

Mike Vick: Vick and the Falcon coaching staff set some lofty goals for the passing game this season. Thus far, the results have been mixed. The coaching staff wanted Vick’s accuracy to approach 60%... so far, uh-uh. Vick’s slingin’ the ball at a 55% completion rate. The team wanted Vick to scramble less; after all, the dude’s not just the face of the franchise… he’s an NFL commodity. But… stop #7 from running? You’d have an easier time containing a shaken can of soda. Through Week 3, Vick’s rushed for 60 or more yards in 2 games, and 40+ in the other, totaling 175 yards and a TD. The Falcs’ wanted Vick to take fewer Sacks. So far… eh’. Vick’s been Sacked 7 times, 4 by the Eagles in Week 1. But, on a more positive note, the Bills didn’t bring the elusive QB down once last week. The coaching staff wanted VIck to move through his progressions, instead of just locking on to his big TE, Alge Crumpler. There, the Hot-lanta QB has enjoyed greater success. Michael Vick is distributing the ball much more effectively, and is developing a nice little rapport with 2nd year receiver, Michael Jenkins. This week, against a Minnesota Viking Secondary that has been victimized through the air repeatedly AND will most likely be missing S Darren Sharper, Vick and the Falcons should enjoy a banner day. The Falcs’ effective running combo of Warrick Dunn and T.J Duckett will humble and already feeble run D, and Vick, Jenkins, Crumpler, and WR Brian Finneran will be tough to contain. I am not suggesting that Vick’s gonna’ pop-off a 300 yarder… but a 3 score game is certainly within reach.

Drew Bledsoe: Bledsoe and his new/old coach Bill Parcells just work well together. In fact, the Cowboys have hosted a veritable “Bill Parcells: This Is Your Life” episode for the modern coaching legend. Anyone remember that show… I hope? Anyone? Well, the crusty coach has former Jet and Patriot buddies Bledsoe, Keyshawn Johnson, and Terry Glenn (I made pre-season fun of both pass catchers… and have eaten a rather hefty slice of humble pie.) at hand. But, for all his grumbling, the old ‘Boy trusts these guys… he knows what to expect from them. Keyshawn and Glenn have been surprisingly productive; relying more upon their instincts, savvy, and Football IQ than any remaining physical gifts… and Bledsoe still has some bullets left in his rifle arm. Paired with gifted RB Julius Jones and the tremendously productive TE Jason Witten, this is no slow ‘Poke O. Bledsoe looked fantastic dissecting the 49’er Secondary last Sunday, and he should remain in your fantasy lineup this week, as he will further pad his numbers against an Oakland defense that is allowing opposing QBs 300 passing yards per game. Last week, the Raiders stood idly by as an injured Donovan McNabb lit ‘em up for 365 yards. This week, Bledsoe and his posse are all excellent starts

Eli Manning: I struggled with this pick. But, seeing as how Eli’s numbers put big brother Peyton’s to shame… how can he be left off? Eli has made rapid progress as a professional QB, and the general consensus amongst Football’s cognoscenti is that Eli’s physical skills are superior to those of his brother. Coming off of a huge 350+ passing day (that included 2 TDs and no INTs), Manning’s a very solid start against a Ram team that has struggled to stop the pass. In fact, the Ram pass defense, allowing almost 245 yards per game, ranks 24th league-wide. WRs Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, and TE Jeremy Shockey are all solid plays this week.

Donovan McNabb: What can you say, ‘Nabbs been fab! The guy has tallied 340 or more passing yards in the last 2 games, he has a 7:1 TD to INT ratio over that span, and last week saw McNabb hang 365 yards on the Raiders. Here’s the bad news for his owners; news that warrants action. It’s no secret that McNabb is injured, the guy is saddled with a serious sports hernia. If “D-Nabb” played either Baseball or pro Hoops he’d be done for the season. But he doesn’t, he plays Football and he’s a MAN! Seriously speaking, Nabb’s injury will worsen and he WILL, at some point, be benched and rested. This is not my opinion; this is Eagle coach Andy Reid speaking. There is no doubt in my mind that, once the birds secure a Playoff berth, Donovan will sit. This is VERY bad news for his owners for this means that the star Signal Caller will be out of action during FANTASY FOOTBALL’S PLAYOFF WEEK(S)! Those of you who lack a solid backup will have to think about swapping for one… or poring over the Waiver Wire. This week, however, McNabb and his flock will face the Kansas City Chiefs. If Bronco QB Jake Plummer can take the Chief Secondary apart piece by piece… McNabb will tear them to shreds. I’d start ‘Nabb, Terrell Owens, TE L.J Smith, and in particular RB Brian Westbrook this week without fail. However, it’s time to come up with a contingency plan for McNabb. You might find an owner with 3 QBs who’d be willing to part with one.

SHOULD SIT QUARTERBACKS

Matt Hasselbeck: Hasselbeck has been playing better of late, but this week the team will knock heads with a VERY tough Washington Redskin defense. Ranking 3rd overall and 2nd against the run (‘Skins allow 65 rushing YPG), C-Hawk RB Shaun Alexander could find holes tough to come by. If the team can’t run… it’ll be awfully tough to pass. The ‘Skin secondary has allowed a stingy 193 passing yards per game. If you have a legit’ alternative at the position, it might be wise to turn to him.

Jake Plummer: The aforementioned Redskin pass defense is tight… but the Jaguar Secondary makes ‘em look gracious by comparison. This week, “The Snake” and friends must face a Jag’ team that is allowing a miniscule 142 passing yards per game. Although Plummer looked good last week, this week… he’s an awfully iffy start.

Trent Green: Green has been a fantasy stud the past few years. But, coming into the season, there were legitimate questions surrounding the receivers at his disposal. There weren’t questions about HIS health, though. And, that’s precisely the matter at hand. The usually accurate, productive KC Signal Caller has tossed a single TD, and his accuracy has been way down this year. Sure, TE Tony Gonzalez has been double-covered and WR Samie Parker is no Randy Moss. But still, Green’s production... or lack thereof, has to be a great concern to his owners. This week, against an aggressive Eagle D, I’d start another QB.

Brett Favre: After last week’s messy Tampa game, Favre appeared on ESPN and Sports Center and pleaded for calm, re-stating his intent and desire to play. I will say this, Favre has been much better to the franchise than the franchise has been to him. They’ve allowed him to play behind a patchwork offensive line, with a running back who hasn’t hit a 100 since LAST November, and with a defense that, going into the year, observers knew would be worse than last year’s model. Favre is not going to save this franchise. Pull the team out of its downward spiral and eke out a Playoff Berth? Favre might sooner pull a rabbit out of his butt. This week (a Monday Night’er), against a formidable Carolina D and a pass rush that has yet to really hit on all cylinders, Favre could be running for his life…again. Julius Peppers could easily become Brett’s personal nightmare Monday night. Favre has thrown multiple picks in each and every game… and this is another contest where fantasy owners might wanna’ bench the beleagured QB

“MUST START RUNNING BACKS”

Rudi Johnson: Seeing as how he’s crossed the stripe but once this season, Johnson’s been a much more productive “yardage league” runner. Week 1, Rudi blew up for 126 yards and a touch’. Since then, though, he’s been rather quiet. It’s not unreasonable to compare the Bengals to last years’ Colt team. Every time you turned around, Peyton Manning was hanging another 6-spot and stud RB Edgerrin James was largely forgotten. While Palmer is not on a record setting pace (though his owners certainly won’t quibble over his fantasy numbers)… the dynamic’s much the same. Rudi and the run game set up the volatile Cincy’ passing game. I’m goin’ out on a limb here, but with the understanding that the Houston Texans have been human turnstiles… and are permitting opposing backs to hang 143 and change on ‘em, look for Rudi’s TD dry spell to come to an end. The Cin’ city O should be able to score at will this week, and I’m wagering the coaching staff tosses this cat a bone and allows him to score a time or 3.



Carnell Williams: I’m not going to roll Cadillac’s accomplishments out; everyone knows that Caddy’s been every opposing D’s daddy. Still, he’s averaging 110+ YPG and should run over, around and through a nearly toothless (allowing runners 116+ YPG) Lion D. Look for Caddy’ and the run game to set QB Brian Griese up for a solid day at the office as well.

Edgerrin James: Oddly enough, Edge’s been the Colts’ most effective offensive weapon. Instead of relying on the offense to win games… a shutdown defensive unit (allowing a microscopic 5 points per game) must be credited with the Colts 3-0 start. QB Peyton Manning hasn’t zipped a TD pass since Week 1, Marvelous Marvin hasn’t been so Marvelous, WR Reggie Wayne’s been pretty quiet, Brandon Stokely appears, at least right now, to have been a product of last year’s offense, and TE Dallas Clark hasn’t enjoyed the breakout season everyone predicted. While I suspect a pissed-off Peyton will tee-off on an innocent Titan D, look for Edge’ to be effective both on the ground and as a receiver out of the backfield. Understand that James is playing for a new contract… understand that with this as motivation, little things like opposing Linebackers won’t be allowed to stand in his way.

Brian Westbrook: Westy’ has been a virtual force of nature. As McNabb’s health deteriorates… and rest assured it WILL deteriorate, Westbrook’s value to the offense increases correlationally. Westbrook possesses brilliant cut-back ability, soft-hands, and a 2nd gear. Westbrook brings adjective-defying versatility to the Eag’ O. Need hard numbers? Last week, Westy’ hauled in 6 passes for 140 yards and a score, and added 68 rushing yards and another score on 13 carries. Those of you who doubted his value at the start of the season are ruing the decision to pass on him now. This week, look for Westbrook to wreak havoc on a Chief D that ranks 26th against the pass and 23rd against the run. Again, look for Philly’ to lean a bit more heavily upon Westbrook than they’d like. The trade-off lies in the durability of the smallish back.


“HONORABLE MENTION”

Julius Jones: The ‘Boys have given Jones a heavy workload; he’s averaging almost 30 touches per game. Only time will tell if he’ll be able to hold up to such demands. Still, fantasy owners are lovin’ the way Parcells is using his featured runner. Jones has yet to tally 100 rushing yards in a game, but he HAS scored 3 times this season. This week, against a Raider D that will have a hard time containing QB Drew Bledsoe and the passing game, look for Jones to again enter the “6-point promised land.”

Willis McGahee: Last week, the Falcons KNEW McGahee was coming… they planned on it. And yet… like the IRS and old age, McGahee was unstoppable. After recording a 140 yard, 1 TD day against a better D, look for McGahee to run a 26th ranked Saint run D ragged. His production will skyrocket of QB J.P Losman ever becomes serviceable.

Stephen Davis: Davis entered last week’s game against Miami with a league-best 4 TDs. He exited the game with 36 rushing yards (on 16 carries), no TDs, and a fumble… his owners are aware that in most leagues, Davis garnered negative points. Look for a bounce-back game this week against a Packer team that couldn’t bring down a bad mood. The Pack’, a moribund franchise, are going down hill rapidly. Oh how the mighy have fallen!

LaDainian Tomlison: LT’s coming off of an ill, 192 yard, 3 score game. A game, mind you, that saw the Bolt’ back toss a TD pass. This week, the going could be tougher as the Chargers face a still-tough New England Patriot team. Even without stout Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson, the Pat run D has stopped most backs dead in their tracks. LT is not, however, just “any” runner. While Tomlinson’s a “must-start” as he’s a threat to disassemble virtually ANY D… it might be wise to temper your expectations for this week’s game.

“SHOULD SIT RUNNING BACKS”

Priest Holmes: Okay… I’m not advising you to sit the most productive Running Back this side of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander. But, I AM here to tell you that Holmes isn’t running the way he has. Priest lacks his trademark burst, he’s not lowering head and demolishing opposing ‘Backers, and given Priest’s reputation as a sledgehammer runner… backup Larry Johnson’s getting a few too many Goalline touches for a “backup.” Most alarming was Bronco DE Trevor Pryce opining upon Holmes’s health. “I think he’s hurt” said Pryce, who then went on to expound upon why he feels Priest is hurt. Although head Chief Dicky “Tears” Vermeil was quick to allay fears of any injury… owners must be concerned. It might be time to sell Priest to a back-strapped owner who’d be willing to gamble upon the productive runner.

Steven Jackson: Again, we’re faced with a conundrum. Do we start a usually productive back? Or, so we bench him in favor of another option. The Ram runner is nursing a chest bruise and, though coach Mike Martz has already stated that Jackson will play against the Giants this weekend, rest assured Marshall Faulk will see a heavier than usual workload. Jackson hasn’t been the rushing hammer his owners expected him to be, either. Thus far, Jackson’s recorded but 1 TD and a total of 201rushing yards. The upside? The G-Men boast a 24th ranked run D, and are allowing runners almost 125 yards per game. If Jackson was drafted to be your #1 runner trot him out, but do not be surprised if it’s Faulk who sees the end-zone.

Curtis Martin: Here’s a horror-show for C-Mart’s owners. Martin has yet to reach the end-zone, and with BOTH Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler injured… the immortal Brooks Bollinger will be jamming hands under Jet Center Kevin Mawae. What does this mean? It means that a winless, ticked-off, formidable Raven defense will be looking to clean Curtis’ clock. Jet fans can expect to see greybeard QB Vinny Testaverde start by Week 6 at the latest.

Ahman Green: Those who drafted Green clearly didn’t heed my pre-season warning; “Green looks spent… he recorded as many TDs as fumbles with 7… leave him to another owner to agonize over.” The Pack’ back enters the week without a score, and with a “3 yards and a cloud o’ dust” rep’. Things will get no better as he’s forced to dance with a somewhat sinister Panther run D; look for these cats to pounce on Green. And I said it last week and I’m sayin’ it again; if Green doesn’t get his groove on, the team WILL give hulking Najeh Davenport a try.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

NFL WEEK 3 WRAP-UP!

Week 3 is a done deal and already... several teams are out of contention. Although the Jets just inked grey-beard QB Vinny Testaverde... how much does THAT guy really have left in the tank? A Jet season that was so promising not even a month ago... is over before the month of September. Who'd a thunk it?


Atlanta at Buffalo: "With Atlanta's answer to Michael Jordan hobbled with a hammy pull, the team would be foolish to start him and risk losing him for an extended period of time... Bill back Willis McGahee has been unable to get himself untracked, and the coaching staff has challenged him to stop dancing and run right at the opposition. If J.P Losman can connect on a few... Willis should have some space to negotiate. While Falc' "Thunder" back T.J Duckett is a fringe "Flex" start due to the strength of the Bill run defense..."
It would seem as if Atlanta either pulled a little injury reporting "sleight-of-hand" ... or Vick's Hammy' wasn't so much pulled as "tugged." Either way, it was a "total package" performance from the Falc' Quarterback. He ran a little... he passed a little... and hhe exhausted the Bills alot. The Atlanta running game ammased over 200 yards in an impressive display against a tough Buffalo unit. Coach Mora kept the Bills off balance by mixing the run and pass with great effectiveness. While Warrick Dunn danced, darted, and eluded defenders for almost 100 yards on 15 carries, bullish T.J Duckett hurled himself against those same defenders, rolling up 75 yards and a score on 12 totes. Vick's accuracy is still suspect, but he IS learning to spread the ball around; 6 receivers caught at least 1 pass. Of note, 2nd year receiver Michael Jenkins and Vick are developing the kind of rapport that the departed Peerless Price could only dream of. Jenkins hauled in 4 for 48 and a TD. Atlanta knocks heads with the Minnesota Vikings next week. The Falcs' and the Vikes have a rivalry that dates back to the '99 playoff game, wherein the Falcs' mopped the turf with Minnesota. Look for Duckett and Dunn to post good numbers against a poor Viking run defense. Likewise, against an injury depleted Minny' Secondary, a mobile Vick and TE Alge Crumpler could make some beautiful music together. Famous last words: "if only." If only Woody had gone straight to the police... this never would have happened." or "If only I hadn't been so drunk, I NEVER would have hooked up with her/him." or "If only J.P Losman could provide the Bills with a passing game." Losman was simply horrid, connecting on a mere 10 of 23 attempts. The Bills' excellent duo of Wide Receivers are wasting away in this run heavy, pass-poor O. The sole bright note for the Bills was Willis McGahee's 2nd 110+ rushing yard performance. Opposing defenders know he's coming... but like the Flu, he can't be stopped. Buffalo faces The Saints' patty-cake D next week, perhaps Losman can get his groove on. McGahee will be a solid play against a unit that surrendered 100+ yards to Viking back, Mewelde Moore yesterday.

Carolina at Miami: "This game is contingent upon 1 factor; which Miami team takes the field. Will it be the impressive Week 1 version... or the "not so much" team that took the field last week?... This game could be a squeaker."
This game was indeed, a squeaker. After Miami built a lead, the Panthers came roaring back. QB Jake Delhomme was forced into 35 passing attempts; he connected on 19, notched 285 yards, 3 scores and 1 pick. His favorite target, to no great surprise, was "Comeback Player of the Year" candidate Steve Smith.Smith recorded a fantastic 11 grab, 170 yard, 3 touchdown day. No other Carolina cat had more than 3 receptions. Backup runner DeShaun Foster has been woven into the game plan... as a receiver. Foster went bananas! Or... is that Bananas Foster? Anyway, 48 yards on 3 catches is pretty productive. As for the team's #1 back, Stephen Davis, his was not a game to remember. The Panther feature back followed up last week's 3 score breakout performance with 36 yards on 16 carries and a fumble, to boot. Carolina should have a MUCH easier time of it next week, when they face Green Bay. The Pack' are headed nowhere fast, and with a defense that has more "gaps" than the Tri-State area... look for Delhomme, Steve Smith AND Stephen Davis to post some gaudy diggies'. Miami is much harder to figure. The D came up huge, producing a game deciding interception with 2 minutes left in the 4th... allowing 'Phin K Olindo Mare to put the deciding 3 through the uprights. Gotta say, QB Gus Frerotte has been efficient if unspectacular. To his credit, he's forged a nice chemistry with the gifted Chris Chambers. Chambers, now that he's got a Signal Caller who can hit him in stride, is quietly putting together a very nice season... perhaps, a career season? 6 catches, 93 yards and a score for "Double-C."With yesterday's 171 yard, 2 TD game... Gus's hung a combined 6 TDs to 3 INTs. The real story of yesterday's tilt, aside from the kick-ass game Panther receiver Steve Smith had, was the breakout performance of Miami rookie RB Ronnie Brown. Up until this point, Brown seemed adrift in Miami's offensive system. Sunday.. Sunday was a whole other story. While former Auburn teammate Carnell Williams was tearing it up for Tampa Bay, Brown gouged the Panthers for 132 yards and a touch' on 23 carries. Brown also exploded for a long of 58 yards.

Cincinnati at Chicago: Chi-Town just might field the best defensive unit in the league this season. However, QB Kyle Orton and the boys will NOT be able to out-point a Cincy' O that fields a trio of Pro Bowler caliber athletes. QB Carson Palmer is lookin' a helluva' lot like the 1st overall pick he was, while WR Chad Johnson is having a season on par with TO's and Randy Moss's... Bear back Thomas Jones is an excellent fantasy start this week, against a Bengal run D that has yet to impress. ... Rudi will have trouble against a very good Chicago run D."
Cincinnati “O’verwhelmed” a very good Chicago defense. The Bear D just can’t be expected to bail out an almost punchless offense. Cub QB Kyle Orton was remarkably generous this weekend, he handed out picks like candy on Halloween. Orton had played with an impressive measure of control and cool since being thrown to the wolves of the NFL… but Sunday- Orton was completely flustered, frustrated, and he finished the game with 149 passing yards and a quintet of INTs. RB Thomas Jones provided the Bear offense with its only bite… well compensated rookie runner Cedric Benson didn’t receive so much as a sniff of a touch. Jones, a big and physical athlete, has been a human wrecking ball; he’s run with a certain ferociousness and anger that makes him scary to tackle. The Bear back added another 106 rushing yards and a TD to an already impressive season. Those owners who gambled upon the veteran hit the jackpot! Thomas Jones has recorded 276 rushing yards and 4 TDs, and Benson doesn’t project to be a factor this year… unless, of course, Jones suffers an injury. On the other side of the field, Bengal Field General Carson Palmer looks every inch the franchise. Although he notched a modest 169 passing yards, Palmer’s play was remarkably efficient; he hit his receivers on 16 of 23 attempts and added another 3 TDs to a rapidly growing resume’. Having connected on over 71 % of his passes, and with nearly 800 yards and 8 TDs already in the bank, Cincy’s Signal Caller has a passer rating of 114.0. Palmer’s a fantasy team dream, with multiple scores in every game. And, given the weapons at his disposal, it’d be almost impossible for the young QB NOT to succeed. WR Chad Johnson is already being spoken of as “the next great pass catcher.” He’s certainly on par with Ram receiver Torry Holt, and is approaching “T.O status.” Johnson may run his mouth… but he also runs opposing D-backs ragged. Sunday, coming off of his 139 yard explosion against Minnesota, Johnson racked up 77 yards and 2 TDs on 3 receptions. That’s 25+ YPC. Interestingly enough, a receiver who I mentioned last week helped Chad beat Bear coverage; rookie Chris Henry. Henry is the Bengs’ 3rd option at the position… but if he maintains this level of effectiveness, T.J Houshman-hate-to-spell-his-name will be bumped to the 3 spot. Henry hauled in 4 passes for 51 yards and a score. Against the Bears, just like the Vikings, RB Rudi Johnson was kept out of the end-zone. But again… as with the Vikes’, the Bengals’ precision passing attack rendered the run game ornamental. However, with the Bengals hosting the defensively challenged Texans this week, look for Rudi to get his groove on. The boys from Houston have allowed opposing backs to rack up over 140 yards per game… peeps’, that’s stupid yardage! In fact, with Houston allowing foes to score over 24 points per game… all of the Bengals are great fantasy plays. Look for Carson Palmer to disembowel the Texans as Rudi guts ‘em on the ground. Here’s my bold prediction and lock pick for the week. Ready? Chicago will NOT lose Sunday. They, umm, have a Bye week. Daring, huh?
Cleveland at Indianapolis: "Look for Peyton to take out his frustrations upon an innocent Brown Secondary. What frustrations? Peyton's passer rating is in the mid-70's! ...the Browns are struggling to get the run game in order..."
Short and sweet; the Indy’ D has risen to the occasion, allowing the offense to be efficient but not gaudy. DE Dwight Freeney was a 1 man gang Sunday, Sacking Cleveland’s Trent Dilfer 3 times. Last year’s po-tent Colt passing attack has given way to a power run game. Stud Colt Edgerrin James is at the top of his game. After Indianapolis snubbed him by refusing to give him a long-term contract… essentially rewarding him for his role as one of the heralded triplets…. AND setting the team’s running back table for seasons to come, James is on a mission. The Colts will, most likely, be unable to afford James after this season. Enjoy it while it lasts folks, as Edge’ll be hopping into another teams’ Uni’ next season. As for record holding QB Peyton Manning, he was held out of the end-zone for the second straight game, thoroughly disenchanting those owners who selected him first overall in their fantasy drafts. The Browns, it seems, have settled upon Reuben Droughns as their main back option. Droughns rushed for 76 yards on 22 tries. The Brown passing game can’t seem to settle upon a #1 receiving option, though. Week 1, the “often imitated but never duplicated” efforts of the incomparable Frisman Jackson made the front pages of every paper in the land. Week 2, rookie Braylon Edwards was super-human and TE Steve Heiden became a household playa’. Week 3… step right up Mr. Antonio Bryant, your Limo is waiting. Look, Browny’ QB Trent Dilfer has played exceedingly well, and probably over his head. Although the team has a Bye… we’ll see if Dilfer’s the real deal or not in the coming weeks. Don’t forget, Trent escorted the Ravens to a SuperBowl in ’00. Indianapolis will play the pesky Titans this week. At some point… Peyton’s gonna’ go *BOOM* His brother Eli has far more attractive fantasy numbers. There’s something no one would have anticpated. Manning and Edge’ are excellent fantasy plays, as they are every week. Edge’ could have a sick day against a Tenne’D that surrendered 50+ yards to Ram Marshall Faulk on 8 carries. Check the injury status of WR Marvelous Marvin. The boy’s nicked up. Reggie Wayne, in Marvin’s stead, has elevated his game.

Jacksonville at N.Y. Jets: "Another near "pick-em." Jet QB Chad Pennington was much better last week, but RB Curtis Martin's nicked up."
This game turned the Jets’ season upside down. A virtual Soap Opera with both QBs nursing sore arms turned into Tragi-comedy when it was revealed late last night that Pennington has a torn rotator cuff and is done for the year. Fiedler suffered a disloated shoulder… he’s shelved for several games, and this leaves Gang Green with the immortal Brooks Bollinger at the helm of a team that, at one point, held SuperBowl aspirations. As we speak, Herm and his minions are scouring other rosters… and retirement homes, searching for anyone capable of stewarding a team whose season has essentially ended before September did! Who’d a thunk it? The sole bright note for the Green and White was the play of LB/DE John Abraham. Abraham is making plays all over the field, working his butt of for a lotto-contract. As for the Jaguars… they received excellent play from RB Fred Taylor… and Big Byron Leftwich connected to ol’ faithful, WR Jimmy Smith, on a 36 yard scoring strike to end a game that went to OT. Next week, the Jags have a tougher task on their docket for they draw a Denver team that thoroughly stymied a powerful Kansas City team on Monday Night. Taylor could be a solid “Flex” play… though the Broncs’ did an admirable job containing both Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. In fact, the only time the Chiefs found the end-zone was on a garbage time 4th Q’ drive. Check the injury report, Bronc’ cover corner Champ Bailey pulled a Hammy AND further aggravated a bum shoulder. If Champ’s down and out, QB Byron Leftwich is a MUCH more attractive play, as is WR Jimmy Smith. #3 corner Lenny Walls is simply awful and has the tacking skills of a toddler. As for the Jets? Wouldn’t be a surprise if they do one of 2 things; pull the trigger on a deal for Bolt’ backup Philip Rivers… because at this stage…after suffering yet another season ending injury, Pennington’s proven himself fragile and the team MUST start thinking about a real, true, franchise caliber QB. Against an irate Baltimore team this week… no one aside from Abraham and Jonathan Vilma are good fantasy starts. I wouldn’t wanna face a ticked off and winless Baltimore team.

New Orleans at Minnesota: "Here's a game that could be ugly. After a grueling few weeks and a laughable "home" game at Giant stadium Monday night, the Saints are physically and mentally wiped. ...C-pepp has yet to toss a TD, though he has been generous with the INTs having dispensed 8 already. As for "feature back" Michael Bennett? According to reports, the team contacted the back-strapped Arizona Cardinals and offered Bennett up for almost nothing. Bennett's former coach, Denny Green, gently demurred. That speaks volumes right there. Moe Williams or Mewelde Moore... or both will see action."
Well… it DID get ugly, that’s for sure. And, the Saints were indeed a shell of a team. Mentally and physically drained after a tough Monday Night “Home” game IN the Meadowlands… the crew spray painted the field gold n’ black… and that’s all Home Field advantage really amounts to, right? Yeah, right, it has nothing to do with 50,000 screaming Giant fans. The game could have been played somewhere down south, where it might’ve had a more “Home” game feel, but it wouldn’t have mattered a lick. The team simply had nothing left in the tank. Viking QB Daunte’ Culpepper, however, was firing on all cylinders and he finally got his game into synch. Off-season addition WR Travis Taylor finally proved his worth and demonstrated his red-zone effectiveness; he snared a pair, while rookie receiver Troy Williamson flashed the speed and home run ability the Vikes new he possessed. The rook’ was on the receiving end of C-Pepp’s 3rd scoring strike; a 53 yarder. And as for the running game? Mewelde Moore cemented the feature back job with a 102 yard performance. Mike managed to pull his head off of the chopping block with this W. The Viking D… they are anything but stout, and they still have trouble containing the run. Next week, against an Atlanta team that boasts one of the best run games in the league…and against the most mobile QB ever to strap ‘em on, the Vikes are going to have to re-configure the D. Culpepper should be a solid start, as Atlanta has had some trouble against the pass. While the Falcs’ shut down Bill QB J.P Losman, that doesn’t count! Mewelde Moore should be a rock solid start as well. The Falcons knew that McGahee was comin’… but they couldn’t stop him. The Saints cross swords with Buffalo… in San Antonio, of all places. How can you not start RB Deuce McAllister? Even against a tough run D, McAllister is a “must start.” I’d start another Signal Caller and mothball Brooks for a week, and check on WR Joe Horns’ health before inserting him into your lineup.

Oakland at Philadelphia: "Here's a matchup that pits the 2 best Receivers in the game against one another. Oakland QB Kerry Collins will connect with All-World receiver Randy Moss on a jump ball or two... but look for Philly's Phinest, QB Donovan McNabb, and HIS All-World pass catcher, Terrell Owens, to put on yet another passing clinic this weekend... Due to his incredible versatility, Eag' Scatback Brian Westbrook should have the defensively iffy Raiduhs' chasing each other! "
This game was far closer than many anticipated. The Eags’ started slowly, allowing the Raiders to develop both a lead and some confidence. It was Oakland’s D, though, that did ‘em in… again. The Silver and Black are really black and blue. RB Brian Westbrook’s breathtaking versatility took the Raiders by surprise, and Westy’ put on quite a show. The lethal Eagle ran for 68 yards and a score, and caught 6 passes for a downright ill 140 yards… and sure, another TD. QB Donovan McNabb might not have put on a clinic in the truest sense of the word, but he certainly taught Oakland’s Secondary a lesson they’ll not soon forget by ringing up 365 yards and 2 TDs. T.O caught 6 for 80 and was on the receiving end of one of McNabb’s TD passes. TE L.J Smith is fast becoming an integral cog in the Eag’ O. The big tight end hauled in 5 passes for 50 yards. But, as good as McNabb and his receivers were… Raider QB Kerry Collins and HIS pass catching contingent matched them almost yard for yard. Collins ran the Philly Secondary silly, throwing for 345 yards and a pair of scores. For all his bluster, all-world receiver Randy Moss caught a fistful of passes en route to a very human 86 yards. Much to his dismay and unlike his Eagle counterpart, “The Freak” didn’t hang a 6 spot. Of note, the role of Raider TEs in the passing game continues. The team exiled former top-dog Doug Jolley to the Jets (who, after surrendering a 1st round draft pick, aren’t even using him!) in favor of young, unproven Courtney Anderson. That decision now seems a stroke of genius. Anderson continues the prolific Raider TE tradition. On Sunday, Anderson hung a receiving C-note on the Eagles. As good as Oakland’s passing game was, however, the run game was utterly impotent. While LaMont Jordan had almost as many carries as he did yards, his receiving skills proved far more valuable as he notched 53 yards and a touch’ on 5 grabs. This coming week, Philadelphia visits Kansas City. The Chiefs were on the warpath, but the Broncos kicked ‘em in the nasty bits on Monday Night. It’ll be interesting to see how the Chiefs respond to such a humiliating loss. I’d check the injury list VERY carefully, as McNabb is collecting nicks and knocks like others collect Baseball cards. A pulled groin is his latest ailment. Scatback Brian Westbrook, so long as his touches are limited, will be an excellent play against a Chief D that struggled to contain both “Marine Mike” and Tatum “Come Ring My” Bell. Likewise, look for Owens to go vertical on a Secondary that allowed Ashley Lelie to get behind it on several occasions. Meanwhile Oakland hosts a Cowboy team that is coming off of an emotional and exhausting come from behind victory. Although ‘Poke DBs Terence Newman and Anthony Henry are solid, Niner’ receiver Brandon Lloyd had a career day Sunday. Moss and Porter could hang some nice diggies. Look for LaMont to pound himself against the ‘Boy D.

Tampa Bay at Green Bay: "Hop on the Cadillac and enjoy the ride folks, 'cause Green Bay ain't gonna stop him. The Pack' is a meandering, lost franchise. They lack offensive continuity because the run game is as stale as a week old Bagel, and the O-line offers QB Brett Favre minimal protection. ...Even with Green Bay's staggering 10-0 home record against the Buccs... all good things must come to an end."
Man… Cadillac is speeding along the “Rookie of the Year” highway. With his 3rd consecutive 100+ yard rushing day, Carnell and his 158 yards broke the rookie rushing record, previously been held by legendary Colt runner Al Ameche. Tampa Bay QB Brian Griese continues to shepherd the offense in his own accurate and efficient way. Griese has developed a nice rapport with WR Joey Galloway, and the two hooked up for a pair of scores Sunday. WR Michael Clayton, coming off of his 1200 yard, 7 TD rookie campaign, has been mute…a fantasy non-factor. Speaking of mute… or maybe “moot,” the Packers’ season is rapidly becoming moot. It’s gotta’ be hard to be a Packer backer this year. But as difficult as it is to root for the Pack? I assure you, it’s far harder to be their Canton-bound QB, Brett Favre. It’s not even ¼ of the way into the season and already, the beleagured Signal Caller has lost 2 top offensive linemen and his top receiving threat. With Ahman Green and the “run game” such in name only, it falls to Favre to create something from nothing. The guy’s not an all-powerful deity, however, nor is he the Favre of old. Brett just can’t conjure plays from thin air… he lacks his former mobility, he lacks his former cannon arm strength (although his arm is still plenty powerful), and he lacks credible line play. Will Favre hang ‘em up after this season? That depends, but it could very well happen. The legendary gunslinger is NOT interested in being the poster boy of a Green Bay rebuilding project, nor is he interested in potentially becoming “crippletized” as a patchwork offensive line constantly leaves him open to “home run” hits. I’d say the chances of Favre retiring after this season are better than 50/50. While no competitor of Favre’s ilk wishes to leave the game on such a sad note (the Pack look to finish no better than 6-10… maybe 7-9), what has he left to prove? This team isn’t even close to competing. Further, this coming week things get no better for Favre and friends. Green Bay has the ignominious honor of locking horns with a ticked-off Carolina Panther team. Still, Favre (the guy has GOT to cut down on the picks!) could put up nice passing numbers for us fantasy freaks, and WRs Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson should give the ‘Lina Secondary a tough time. Miami’s #1 receiver, Chris Chambers, scored once and nearly hit a 100 on an above average Carolina Secondary this past week. Also, against a unit that allowed rookie Ronnie Brown 130+ rushing yards, RB Ahman Green has a chance, albeit a slim one, to get G-Bay’s run game into high gear. If Green cannot get on his game, it wouldn’t be a stunner if hulking Najeh Davenport sees his workload increase two-fold. Davenport might even be a solid ‘Wire pickup. Tampa Bay faces a soft, by comparison anyway, Detroit D. Look for Cadillac to, appropriately enough, motor through Mo-town’s run defense. Griese’s a good start too, against an opportunistic… but over-rated Lion D.

Tennessee at St. Louis: "Ram RB Steven Jackson should be granted his fondest wish this week; a far heavier work load. Jackson has yet to eclipse 20 carries in a game! Bulger and the boys should have a nice day at the office as well. The Tennessee D looked good last week only because the Raven offense is so damn stagnant."
This game was a see-saw affair, and far more entertaining than most anticipated. Sunday, we had a Marshall Faulk sighting! When Steven Jackson took a vicious shot to the ribs, the Rams marshaled their resources and trotted out Faulk. Notably, it was Faulk’s idea to give the starting job to the younger… and at this point more explosive, Jackson. The former feature acquitted himself remarkably well, however, rollin’ up 50 yards on 8 totes. Faulk also secured a TD on 31 receiving yards. It was the passing games’ day Sunday, with QB Marc Bulger and WR Torry Holt essentially out playing catch. Holt collected 9 passes for 163 yards and 3 scores. Of note, #2 receiver Isaac Bruce was felled by a toe injury. This is no nickel and dime injury… and the “Reverend Bruce” is no wuss’. The injury’s a painful one and it could have the productive pass catcher on the sidelines for some length of time. With Bruce’s injury comes the elevation of WR Kevin Curtis to #2 status. If the 5-11, 185 Lb pass catching dynamo’s still on your league’s ‘Wire… I’d be surprised, but I’d also snap him up. Dude’s fast, he can catch, and he can make things happen after the reception. The Titans are forced to confront the loss of a starter as well; RB Travis Henry. Henry, a beast of a back and a real warrior, was suspended by the league for violating the Subby’ Abuse policy. Henry had just secured the staff’s confidence and blessing as top back. Now, the somewhat less than durable Chris Brown… a guy who is much better suited to be a change o’ pacer, is thrust back into the starter’s role. Look for Brown to stub a toe.. or stub his body, in relatively short order. The guy’s a china doll. With another solid outing; a 96 yard day, WR Drew Bennett has stepped up and shaken off the 1 year wonder label. I would not, however, be inclined to play ANY of the Titans as they are forced to dance with the Colts and their shutdown defensive unit this coming weekend. St. Louis, on the other hand, draws a more favorable matchup against a Giant team that was embarrassed on Sunday night by the Chargers. Look for Bulger to again have a banner day, Holt as well. Kevin Curtis could even sneak in a score, as the Giants’ Secondary will have its hands full trying to keep track of Holt. Check on Steven Jackson’s status… he could be a fantastic play, after the G-Men gave LaDainian Tomlinson the keys to the kingdom… and refused to tackle him. If Jackson is not playing… and even if he is, Marshall Faulk should be a productive play.

N.Y. Giants at San Diego: "Facing a must-win game, look for the Chargers to pull this one out. Antonio Gates and LaDaniain Tomlinson are a formidable 1-2 offensive punch, and after so much criticism was levied at the coaching staff... I'd expect LT to start catching some passes out of the backfield."
G-Man fans had to wonder just how ugly the game was going to get. Charger franchise back LaDainian Tomlison ran for a ridiculous 192 yards, caught 6 passes for 28 yards, and scored seemingly at will. The Giant D was, apparently, afraid to hurt the Bolts’ feelings by tackling them. To be fair, this was a tough game for the Giants and their young gun QB. The young man-ning was forced to face the fans he spurned on draft day, and the boos rained down upon him like hail. When the Chargers mounted an early lead, Manning kinda-sorta silenced the crowd as he, impressively, led the Giants on 3 late 2nd quarter scoring drives. But when Tomlinson took a 3rd Q pitch… and THREW a TD PASS to vet’ receiver Keenan McCardell… the barn door blew open and all hell broke loose. Tomlinson was the epitome of rushing magnificence, averaging over 9 YPC, and Schottenheimer finally took off the pass catching shackles. Tomlinson has the hands of a wide receiver… yet up until this week, had no receptions to his credit. LT and QB Drew Brees form a dynamic 1-2 punch, and when force of nature TE Antonio Gates in the mix… the Bolts’ are truly a team to be reckoned with. Brees’s cool play and admirable leadership has kept backup QB and former 1st round pick Philip Rivers on the bench. And really, how can the team legitimize the backward step starting an unproven Signal Caller would be? Answer… they can’t. Brees will receive the franchise QB contract he so richly deserves, and Rivers will have to be swapped for picks, players, or both. The team team can ill-afford to pay 2 QBs starting money.

Kansas City at Denver: “This is a must-win for Denver... and KC has yet to truly gel as a team. Those are reasons for the Bronc's to emerge with a W…. TE Gonzo, who has yet to really get warmed up…Denver has yet to really establish a feature back”
And indeed, Denver emerged victorious. In fact, they positively routed a previously unbeaten Kansas City team. While Denver’s hard-charging Mike Anderson beat up the curiously vacant KC D (and in so doing, locked up the feature back job), QB Jake Plummer and the passing game kept the newly bolstered Chief Secondary back on their heels, refusing to allow them to creep up in run support duty. Here’s a question… what IS it with Plummer and that cheesy, circa 70’s mustache? All he’s missing is a white leisure suit, replete with a wide-collared pseudo-silk shirt and a hub-cap size gold medallion. Perhaps, that mustache is an alien life-form? Perhaps I’m much too intrigued BY the mustache? Either way, the ‘Stache and Plummer are playing better, smarter Football. Plummer connected on 13 of his 18 passing attempts, and was good for 152 yards and 2 TDs (one rushing). Ageless wonder WR Rod Smith set an NFL record, albeit a fairly obscure one; Smith became the 1st undrafted player to reach 10,000 yards receiving. Incidentally, Smith ALSO set a record at his weekly BINGO game! Smith’s the 1st person to EVER hit 3 consecutive “black-out” (all BINGO squares called and covered) cards! That’s some week for Smith, huh? Anyway, the veteran pass catcher recorded his 3rd game with 7 or more receptions and 80 or more yards. From a fantasy angle… especially for those in yardage leagues, Smith’s been “consistently consistent.” If there is a criticism of Plummer and last night’s passing game… than it’s that no other receiver could boast as many as 3 grabs. “The Snake” was locked onto “The Geriatric One.” Those of you who still have RB Tatum Bell on your rosters are aware that he’s been effective when called upon. Last night, Tatum had 47 yards on a scant 5 totes. Should Anderson fall to injury, Bell will be a good fantasy fill-in. His durability is a question mark, though. The Chief’s 2-headed run game isn’t lacking in durability. Priest Holmes is an amazing asset, and Larry Johnson is a backup with starter value. Holmes, who had a hard time eluding Denver’s “crap-through-a-goose” quick Linebackers, concluded his night with 61 yards (14 carries) rushing and 32 yards (3 grabs) receiving. In a game that was a foregone conclusion by the end of the 1st quarter, Larry Johnson had a surprisingly light workload. Might it not have been more advantageous to give the backup more carries… as opposed to risking the franchise back? Well, I’m not paid to question Dick Vermeil’s judgment... and actually, I’m not paid to question ANYBODY’S judgment. KC has another tough tilt coming up, as they’re slated to knock heads with the Eagles. You’ve gotta’ like QB Trent Green and the passing game against an Eagle Secondary that hemorrhaged yards Sunday. But the Eag’ run D? Well, they absolutely closed the lights on LaMont Jordan. Still, are you really prepared to sit Priest Holmes? Larry Johnson… that’s another story. Given that Johnson receives approximately ½ of Holmes’s touches, he might be a good “sit” candidate as Philly’ LB Jeremiah Trotter makes a world of run stuffing difference. As for the Bronc’s, they don’t have a patty-cake game either, as they’re visiting a tough Jaguar team. Check the injury report… but Mike Anderson always runs hard, and Jet RB Curtis Martin had a marginally productive game against a tough-as-nails Jag’ line. Plummer, though, could be a sneaky-good start. I like Jacksonville CB Rashean Mathis (currently banged up) and S Donovin Darius (also banged up), but #2 corner Kenny Wright is about as impressive as a pasta shell necklace. Likewise, WR Ashley Lelie is overdue for his breakout game… especially if the Jag’ Secondary is missing several starters.

Arizona at Seattle: "Zona's desperate for a run game... could be that Denny Green missed the mark by a wide margin on dimunitive rookie J.J Arrington. Veteran Marcel Shipp will get the bulk of the carries... ...C-Hawk Signal Caller Matt Hasselbeck finally looked the part of a top NFL passer last week, as did the team's feature back Shaun Alexander.... Look for the Seattle super-back to post another week of solid fantasy numbers."

Dallas at San Francisco: "I'm going on sheer gut instinct here. Look for San Francisco to receive a steady diet of RB Julius Jones. Frisco's run game has been such in name only, as top back Kevan Barlow has been a thorough zero since signing his mega-bux contract. How long until the Niners give rookie Frank Gore more than 5-6 token totes? ...which Tim Rattay's gonna take the field this week? Poke' Safety Roy Williams and LB Dat Nguyen are both strong IDP starts... Julian Peterson guaranteed a Niner' win. We'll see."

New England at Pittsburgh: "NE's just not the NE of old. The run D sorely misses departed LBs Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi, the D misses former Coordinator Charlie Weiss, and RB Corey Dillon isn't running with his usual success. ...QB Ben Roethlisberger has been as sharp as a tack, showing no signs of sophomore slumpage..."

Monday, September 26, 2005

NY JETS THREATEN TO CRASH

NY Jet fans are gluttons for punishment... For years, the team lacked credible QB play. Oh sure, the team trotted out legendary Field Generals such as Richard Todd (who among us will forget Todd's implosion against the Miami Dolphins and the "Killer B" D?)... Kenny O'Brien... Rick Mirer... stop me if I'm hurting those of you who bleed green and white. However, Marshall product Chad Pennington was drafted in '00 ... and he quickly captured the hearts and minds of the Jet faithful. But... alas, his fame has been erected upon the scaffold of a single glorious season! In 2002, when he started 12 games, Chad penned a 3,120/22/6 season, with a Passer Rating of 104.2. What did he do for an '03 encore? 9 games started, 2,139/13/12 ... with a P/R of 82.9. ... How's about '04 you say? Better, but still nothing to write mom about; in 13 contests, Chad hung 2,673/16/9, P/R of 91.0 ... Jet fans have said, "our boy's injured, just you wait until he gets healthy... then you'll see what he's REALLY made of." Jet team surgeons have had the opportunity to see what he's made of... several times over! While I don't doubt Pennington's willingness to surrender his body... I DO question whether or not that body has the stuff neccessary to succeed in the NFL. Chad's ego writes checks his body just can't cash. Yesterday, the Jet pilot went down with another shoulder injury! Worse still for the Jets, his backup, former 'Phin starter and local boy Jay Fiedler (I went to school with both Jay and his brother, Scott... Scott's not famous by the way), went down with an arm injury as well. An injury team sources claim is more serious than Pennington's. From both a team and fan's perspective, this is umm, B-A-D. Pennington's play had been erratic at best to this point, but at least he shared chemistry with WR Laveranues Coles and TE Chris "Touchdown Maker" Baker. Now, the best thing for such an injury is of course, rest. But with Fiedler also injured, it would appear as if backup to the backup Brooks Bollinger will have to ride to the Jets' collective rescue.

It's only Week 3 and already... the Jets threaten to crash.... and burn

Friday, September 23, 2005

WEEK 3 START AND SIT RUNNING BACKS

Week 3 "Must Start Running Backs"

Bengals Rudi Johnson: Johnson will be facing a rough, tough, n' gruff group o' Bears. Running with excellent balance and a low pad level, Johnson's rarely dropped by the first defender. With his impressive durability and aggressive running style, Johnson has become a true #1 fantasy back. Although Washington's Clinton Portis skinned the Bears for 121 rushing yards Week 1, the unit kept the Lions' "mane" back in relative check last week. "KJ's" pride was bruised when the Chi-town Backers held him to 22 yards on 8 carries.
Still, the Lion Signal Caller doesn't hold a candle to Cincy' QB Carson Palmer... and I ain't "lyin!" With Chad johnson, T.J Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry at Palmer's beck and call... Rudi could find himself in space once he gets past the first tier o' tacklers.

Bears Thomas Jones: Fantasy owners delight in riding Bear back! Although the team drafted Cedric Benson with the intent of ramming him down opposing defenders throats, Benson's protracted holdout, coupled with Thomas Jones' more than impressive performance, has rendered the rookie a fantasy non-factor. Thomas Jones went on a rampage last week, rolling for almost 160 combined yards and 2 scores on the Lions. Facing the Bengals this week... assuming Chicago's cub QB can maintain the illusion of a passing game, Thomas Jones could hang close to a C-note plus a score.

Rams Steven Jackson: Look, head coach Mike Martz has a love affair with the passing game; that much we all understand. Wide Receivers Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, and Kevin Curtis are a near peerless trio. And, with productive QB Marc Bulger at the epicenter of the po-tent passing attack, it's easy to understand Martz's school-boy crush. However, Martz MUST call a more balanced game plan... and even he knows as much. Over the span of Weeks 1 and 2, the feature back hasn't totalled 40 carries. For a back of Jackson's caliber... that's downright inexcusable. Last week, against a Cardinal D that was widely assumed (going into the season) to be one of the leagues' stingier units, Jackson ran for 93 yards and a score on 18 carries; that's an average of 5.2 YPC. Look for Steven Jackson to receive a heavier workload against a Tennessee D that was gashed by Pittsburgh's surprise feature back, Willie Parker (week1)... but closed the lights on the Raven running game last week. Rest assured my fantasy friends... against St. Louis' infinitely more talented offense... the Titan D will fold like a cheap suit.

Saints Deuce McAllister: I'm sayin' that Deuce is gonna shake loose this week against the Vikings' Amish defense. While Beng' back Rudi Johnson didn't cross the stripe last week, there was hardly a need since QB Carson Palmer and his receivers ran a pass and catch clinic! Saint Signal Caller Aaron Brooks may be prone to lapses in judgement, but he's no longer expected to carry the offense; that task has fallen to Deuce and the running game. Thus the damage that Brooks and his "mental midgetry" can affect has been minimized. Look for WRs Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth to loosen the Viking D up... and McAllister WILL take advantage of the space afforded him. It'd be shocking if the Vikes keep him under 110 yards and a duce of scores.

Buccaneers Carnell Williams: Carnell "Cadillac" Williams is building a rock solid "Rookie of the Year" case for himself. What can you say? The Caddy's been EVERY opposing D's daddy! He's durable, he doesn't run so much as he glides, and he's as elusive as that chicken Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) tried to corner when he was training to fight Clubber Lang... I think it was.
In his first 2 pro games, Williams has hung 51 carries, 276 yards, and 2 TDs. The dude is no 3 yards and a cloud o' dust runner either. Williams ran for a long of 70 yards week 1, and against a formidable Buffalo D... he notched a long of 31 yards (en route to a total of 128 yards) last week. Look for Carnell to gobble up a Green Bay D that, while better against the run than pass, is still as ugly as... yup! You guessed it! Mike Tyson in pumps and a cocktail dress.

Chargers LaDainian Tomlinson: If St. Louis is under-working their Running Back... that coach Marty Schottenheimer is playing the "You're Invisible and I'm Ignoring You" game with money runner L.T. Another back who's yet to eclipse 20 totes in a game, Schotty's play calling is particularly curious as the Charger air attack doesn't hold a candle to that of St. Louis! While Tomlinson hasn't rung up the yards... he has notched the TDs with 3 in 2 games. Interestingly enough, for a Running Back with a wideout's mitts, LT has yet to snare a pass. Look for Tomlinson and the run game to give the NY Giants all they can handle this week.

HONORABLE MENTION:
Cowboys Julius Jones: Jones and Co. face a Frisco' D was driven to distraction by Philly' Scatback Brian Westbrook.

Steelers Willie Parker: He should have a solid day against a Patriot D that has had lots of trouble with opposing runners.

Seahawks Shaun Alexander: This 'Hawk took flight last week (155 total yards and a TD) against a pretty tight Falcon D. Look for him to hang even better diggies' against a disappointing Cardinal D.

"SHOULD SIT RUNNING BACKS"
Patriots Corey Dillon: Facing a swift, sure-tackling Steeler D... uh-uh, not this week. Dillon has yet to find his groove.
Packers Ahman Green: Against a swarming, resurgent Buccaneer D, Green's going to be a poor play. I have a felling that Favre will be throwing early and often in this one.

Falcons Warrick Dunn: Dunn was a "Should Sit" reccomendation last week.. and he is again. Dunn can't seem to make the same kinds of cuts on natural grass. I'd play fellow Falc' T.J Duckett before Dunn. Ducket, at least, will see the Goalline carries.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

WEEK 3 NFL QUARTERBACKS: START AND SIT

WEEK 3 "START AND SIT"

This season is moving with all the speed and "giddy up" of a Roger Clemens Fastball; It's Week 3 already peeps! Some rather alarming trends have begun to manifest themselves...
1. Viking QB Daunte' Culpepper leads his "All Amish Offense."
2. Raven Jamal Lewis is apparently afraid to step on opposing defenders toes.
3. The vaunted Colt passing game has given way to a defensive rennaissance.
4. The chief Chief back is, apparently, Larry Johnson.

I could go on... but this article isn't intended to depress. Let us look at some skill po' matchups for the NFL's Week 3!

"MUST START QUARTERBACKS"
Eagle Donovan McNabb: Some owners scratching their heads when the Eagle Field General was picked off once, sacked twice, and lost 2 Fumbles against Atlanta Week 1. Fear not fantasy friends, McNabb was McFab' last week! A 5 TD, 340+ yard passing day was more than enough to assuage hurt fantasy feelings.
This week, against an Oakland Defense that surrendered 300+ yards and 2 TDs to Tom Brady and his merry band of Patriots Week 1, McNabb and T.O should put on quite a show. Donovan and Scatback Brian Westbrook also work well together. Westbrook is coming off of a very solid, 120 total yard, 1 TD game and... as I predicted last week, Owens and TE L.J Smith afforded Westy' lots of room to run underneath. *NOTE: Check on McNabb's physical status... he's a bit nicked up. But again, as I said last week in the forum during the Sunday morning chat, McNabb's a warrior... and unless his arm drops off, McNabb's gonna go.

Colts Peyton Manning: Everyone who is waiting for Manning's breakout game... set aside a bag of chips, a 6 pack o'.. anything, and a pot of Chili. Manning's gonna set it off against a weak Cleveland D this week. Incidentally, I like both Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark in this one.

Rams Marc Bulger: Bulger stewards an offense laden with talent. In fact, the Ram O is SO good... that the team would be a near lock to represent in Detroit come the SuperBowl... if the team could field even a semblance of a defense. The Ram QB ranks 5th among NFL Signal Callers in terms of passing yards. Week 1 saw Bulger torch a sorry San' Fran D to the tune of 362 yards and 2 TDs. However, the play calling was SO imbalanced... Bulger recorded a stunning 56 attempts. Last week, Bulger found himself mired in the sands of Arizona; 216 yards, 1 INT and 1 TD was a poor encore. This week though, Bulger faces a Tennessee D that allowed young Ben Roethlisberger to light them up (week 1) for 250 + yards and 2 TDs on 9 completions. Although the Titans were more taut last week, ceding a mere 212 yards and 1 TD through the air... that performance came against a wayward Raven team and a backup QB, Anthony Wright. Bulger and his pass catching contingent should have a much easier time of it this week, more so because RB Steven Jackson is on his game... and the Ram receivers tower head and shoulders over the Raven receivers.

Saints Aaron Brooks: Brooks is bubbling with enthusiasm. No longer expected to carry the weight of the offense upon his shoulder pads... Brooks and the passing game take their cues from burly Saint back, Deuce McAllister. The powerful back sets up the potent passing game as opposed to it being the other way around, as in seasons past. Brooks, a fine yardage league QB, has already thrown for 567 yards. The song remains the same, however. Aaron Brooks can move the team up and down the field... but he simply can't get it into the end-zone... and he continues to agitate the coaching staff by handing the ball back to the opponent. Against the Giants Monday, Brooks hung 375 passing yards. Great, right? Ahhh, not so much. Brooks also tossed 3 picks and fumbled once. Same old same old. This week, however, Brooks faces a Viking D that was torn to shreds by Bengal QB Carson Palmer. While Palmer's pass catchers, and particularly Chad Johnson, are amongst the best in the business... Saint receivers Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth are no slouches. Further, the "Purple Gang" is seemingly opposed to tackling the ball carrier, good news for Deuce's owners. Brooks, Horn and McAllister are all great fantasy starts this week, as the Vikings' troubles won't be solved over the course of 1 week.

OTHER SOLID QB STARTS:
Steelers Ben Roethlisberger: Big Ben faces a Patriot Secondary that gave Raiduh' Kerry Collins the keys to the car; 265 passing yards and a trio of TDs.

Cowboys Drew Bledsoe: Blesdsoe gets to pad his numbers against a sad-sack San' Fran' Secondary that saw Marc Bulger score at will Week 1; 362 yards and a pair of scores... and "D-Nabb" and T.O" lit 'em up like the Christmas Tree at Rockerfeller Center last week; 342 yards and 5 TDs.

"SHOULD SIT QUARTERBACKS"
Packers Brett Favre: Sure, Favre torched the Browns last week... but against anything that might resemble a real D... he could struggle. Week 1, the Lions held Favre and friends to a measly 201 passing yards, forced him to Fumble twice, Sacked him 4 times, picked him twice. This week? Against a scary-good Tampa Bay D, Favre's a poor gamble.

Jets Chad Pennington: Pennington had a solid... if unspectacular, 190 yard/2 TD game last week. However, he faces a Jacksonville team that positively stymied Peyton Manning last week, and Matt Hasselbeck the week before.

Falcons Mike Vick: Look, we all realize that Vick's a dangerous... no, frighteningly talented athlete. Those skills do not, however, manifest themselves in the fantasy arena. Against a Buffalo Bill D that punctured Carr's tires Week 1... he took the Texans nowhere... and rendered Brian Griese into nothing more than an ornamental passer last week... Vick's a poor start. The Bill 'Backers will do their collective best to keep him contained.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

WEEK 2 IN REVIEW PART 2

New England at Carolina: “Corey Dillon's physical style should put the Panthers back on their paws... softening them up for Tom Terrific and his travelling passing attack. Against a Pat D that had some difficulties containing the Raider run game, RB Stephen Davis is a "Must Start." Given the loss of both their offensive and defensive coordinators coupled with the absence of both stout ‘Backers Tim Johnson and Tedy Bruschi, it’s a testament to New England’s integrity and willingness to bleed for one another that they’ve played as well as they have. In a nutshell, Pat’ back Corey Dillon was unable to get going, running for a scant 36 yards on 13 carries, and ‘Lina’s defense is S-T-O-U-T stout. Their CBs, Ken Lucas and Chris Gamble (on return duty, Gamble returned a punt 76 yards), are both capable covermen and don’t shirk run support duty; Lucas enjoyed a 10 Tackle day. The Panther LBs are cat-quick, and are able to drop back into coverage… as Will Witherspoon’s Interception and pair of Passes Defended attests. MLB Dan Morgan is a fine IDP’er, he’s just gotta’ stay healthy… and that’s no small challenge for him. Speaking of injury, the Panther line WILL miss DT Kris Jenkins whose out for the season with a torn ACL. The team does, however, boast possibly the best DE in the business; Julius Peppers. And, fellow DE Mike Rucker is no slouch either. Rucker racked a Sack, forced a fumble, and notched a trio of solo tackles Sunday. As for the Carolina O, QB Jake Delhomme had an off-day, throwing for 154/1/1. Hopefully, you heeded my recommendation to start recovered RB Stephen Davis, as he tore the Pat’ D to shreds with a 3 score assault. As for the Patriots’ offense…QB Tom Brady was nothing special, tossing a pick and a score on 270 yards.
Looking towards Week 3, Carolina faces Miami. The ‘Phins played solid Football week 1… and terrible ball this past week. Despite the losses, Miami still fields a strong defensive unit. The run games of both the Broncos and the Jets were restrained in consecutive weeks…. However, the pass defense misses the dearly departed, CB Patrick Surtain and SS Sammy Knight (both bolster the KC D). Look for Stephen Davis to enjoy modest success… if Jake Delhomme can get the ball to his receivers. Aside from Davis, this game is a poor matchup for ‘Lina’s skill position players. As tough as Carolina has it, though, New England’s week may be far uglier! This week, the Pats get to knock heads with Big Ben’s Steelers. With a run defense that held RBs Chris Brown and Domanick Davis to a little more than a combined 120 yards.. Corey Dillon will have to earn every foot against a tough Pitt’ unit. Look, Dillon is still a top tier running back- he’s still a weekly start. But… BUT, the Steeler D is as tough as beef jerky. If you have another back with a more favorable match up… go with him. Likewise, QB Tom Brady rarely hangs gaudy numbers. This week, against the Steeler Secondary, Brady’s numbers promise to be… let’s go with the word “efficient.”

Pittsburgh at Houston: “Big Ben and "Fast Willie Parker" are a heckuva 1-2 act. Hines Ward should see a lot more action this week. I do NOT like Domanick "Double D" Davis against this agressive, swift, sure-tackling D. S Troy Polomalu is a playmaker and can clean clocks like a swiss watch-maker; a solid IDP play. The Steelers are tweaking their CBs. If anything, the Pitt' Secondary will be even more stout….. If the Texans do NOT do a better job protecting franchise QB David Carr... the team will be looking for a new franchise QB in very short order.”
This is one of those few contests I nailed dead-on… though you need not be “Karnak the Magnificent” to have predicted that the Steelers would give Houston all they could handle. Going in to this contest, there were concerns surrounding the knee of Big Ben. Such concerns proved groundless, and Roethlisberger… whose name ranks just behind T.J Houshmandzadeh on the “names that suck to type list,” was good for 250+ yards and a pair of TDs. RB Willie Parker was also “good as Steeler gold,” he ran over, through and around the bumblin’ fumblin’ and stumblin’ Texan D, for 111 yards (that’s 333 feet my friends) and notched another score. This game served notice; Willie Parker IS the Steeler feature back, irregardless of Duce or Bus. Look for Bus to spell Parker upon his return from a calf injury… he could also pinch some Goalline touches. WR Hines Ward more than made up for a near non-existent Week 1 performance. Hines was cash-MONEY, ringing up 2 TDs and 84 receiving yards on 6 grabs. Completing my fantasy troika; S Troy Polamalu. Polamalu was all over the field, makin’ plays from coast to coast. Want hard numbers? The big, hard-hitting 2nd year Safety recorded 6 Tackles, 1 pass defended … and oh yeah, 3 Sacks! What’d I say about David Carr? People… Carr’s crashin’, he was Sacked a ridiculous 8 times Sunday! That makes 13 on the season… a still fledgling season. David Carr is “The Alamo” embodied, constantly under siege and a threat to be brought down at any moment. Again, Domanick “Double D” Davis (59 ground yards) was less than breathtaking, though he DID notch a score on one of his 4 receptions.
As for the Steelers? They’re facing a challenge; the New England Patriots who are coming off of a loss.. I wouldn’t be opposed to starting Ben against a Pat’ Secondary that allowed Raider QB Kerry Collins to record 3 TDs over Week1. RB Willie Parker is a sure-start against a Patriot run defense that certainly has its share of problems… please re-review Carolina RB Stephen Davis’s banner Sunday. WR Hines Ward, coming off of his productive game, should be able to snare a few… he’s savvy enough to poke holes in the NE Secondary. Also, Pittsburgh’s rookie TE, Heath Miller, might be a sneaky-good start.

San Francisco at Philadelphia: “San Fran' surprised last week; Tim Rattay is more than serviceable. Still, I look for a BIG day from former Forty-Niner T.O. C'mon, on this stage? In this game? …how much longer until the Niners' see what they have in rookie runner, Frank Gore? Kevan Barlow isn't helped by poor line play... but Gore ran with greater success and determination behind that same line….I like RB Brian Westbrook as a starter in this tilt.” San’ Fran’ was as ugly as Mike Tyson in a cocktail dress. I will say no more… as it’s just a waste of typing energy. Frisco’ is vying for the 1st pick in the draft. Again. Regal Eagle Donovan McNabb was fantasy’s MVP Sunday, with 5 TDs, 342 passing yards, and a Passer Rating of 155 and change. “T-Shmo” had the kind of day I expected and his owners drool over; 5 grabs, 143 yards and a pair of scores. RB Brian Westbrook proved just how valuable he is… his versatility is tremendous. Westy’ hung 120 total yards and notched a score. Lastly, TE L.J Smith is fast-becoming a top tier fantasy TE and was instrumental Sunday, punishing the Niner’ Secondary when they doubled up on Owens. Smith’s 119 yards and 1 TD are indicative of his pass catching skills.
Week 3 sees Philly’ face the Oakland Raiders. Given the Raiders improved… yet still generous defense, McNabb and Owens should hook up at least twice. In fact, Oakland’s going to get a taste of their own bitter medicine. Much the same way Collins and Moss toast opponents, T.O and McNabb should sit down to a “Raider Seder.” RB Brian Westbrook should find himself running in space as a receiver coming out of the backfield, given the respect Owens and complementary pass catchers Greg Lewis and L.J Smith will command. As for San Francisco… man, it could be time to throw rook’ Signal Caller Alex Smith into the fray, allow him to take his lumps, and he’ll mature that much faster. Facing Dallas and their aggressive D and impressive RB Julius Jones… the sole Niner’ start is IDP play, LB Julian Peterson.


Atlanta at Seattle: “Falc' back Warrick Dunn is a much niftier runner on Astro-turf', and RB T.J Duckett should see his work load increase. Likewise, on the other side of the field, Shaun Alexander will enjoy a heavier workload.” C-Hawk Signal Caller Matt Hasselbeck had hisself’ a breakout game! At long last, Matty-boy looked like the QB of old, tossing for 281 yards and 2 TDs against a solid Atlanta Secondary. Aiding Hasselbeck was WR Darrell Jackson and his 131 receiving yards. In turn, RB Shaun Alexander had a long day at the office. After toting the mail 28 times for 140+ yards…the Seattle feature back finally found the end-zone. Of note, “behemothic” TE Jerramy Stevens not only hit the field… he scored and played an integral role in the W. With consecutive 40+ yard games, the gigantic TE finally seems to be living up to his great promise. Savvy owners will have observed that WR Joe Jurevicius notched another score. While he’s no longer a speed merchant, “Joey J.” is an ideal possession receiver. As expected, Atlanta’s “Thunder and Lightning” running back combo hit the field… but had trouble with the surface. Warrick Dunn was held to 53 yards on 16 carries, and T.J Duckett recorded a paltry 18… but DID mange to score. Duckett, much like Giant rookie Brandon Jacobs, epitomizes the “Goalline/short yardage back” role. ‘Falc’ QB Mike Vick had an awfully efficient 11/19 123 yard day, with a TD pass to WR Brian Finneran. As for this coming week, Atlanta tilts with Buffalo and Seattle dances with Arizona. Buffalo is awfully tough, especially at home. Duckett could take a Goalline tote in for 6… but I don’t like Dunn against either the D or on the surface. Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck could… should, have a solid day against a ‘Zona D that didn’t look too good against young G-Man QB Eli Manning Monday night. Further, ‘Hawk back Shaun Alexander is a great start against that Cardinal D.


Check back tomorrow for "Week 3; START and SIT!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

NFL WEEK 2 WRAP-UP; PART I

"Week 2 in Re-View!" PART I
Baltimore at Tennessee: "Tennessee is awful... Look for Jamal Lewis to have a breakout game against a ghastly run defense. Baltimore fans have their wish; backup QB Anthony Wright is the starter. Let's see if the guy, who DID take the team to the post-season a couple of years ago, capitalizes upon his opportunity. Oh yes.... I'd say Derrick Mason is a good WR start, as he will be facing his old team." Wow! Tennesse won, handily, and the Raven O is simply unable to take flight. RB Jamal Lewis WAS a good start against a depleted Tenny' D. Perhaps the ankle bracelet/Monitoring device he's wearing is attached to a 15 pound ball? Jamal, 10 carries... 9 yards? C'mon! Balty's backup back, Chester Taylor fared no better; Chesty' ran for just 5 yards on 3 totes. Maybe... just maybe, we need to re-evaluate the Tennesee D. The fellas in the white and powder blue jerseys were flyin' all over the field and played a titanic game, forcing 2 turnovers and Sacking new/old Raven QB Anthony Wright 6 times. Anthony was neither right nor wrong.. he just ... was; 25/40, for 212/1/1. Raven receiver Derrick Mason was a good start, with 8 grabs for 60 yards and a score. Interestingly... and perhaps it's because he's as tough as moist gauze, Titan RB Chris Brown got 8 carries...to Travis Henry's 18. Brown's line wasn't an ugly one... until you look a little bit deeper. Averaging a hair over 4 yards per tote is nice, and Brown caught 3 balls coming out of the backfield. The fumble he lost, coupled with the concussion he suffered are what continue to frustrate the coaching staff. Brown sat out the second half of Sunday's game, explaining Travis Henry's heavy workload, but he IS expected to be ready for this week's game against the Rams. Bottom line? Although Chris Brown is capable of posting gaudy numbers, his stone-handed ways and lack of durability should concern both coaches and fantasy owners alike. Given Brown's predeliction for injury, the "tough as naugahyde" Henry will probably receive the bulk of the Goalline work. While Titan QB Steve McNair did nothing flashy, but he DID keep the team moving downfield, he didn't turn the ball over, and he played efficient Football. What more can you expect... from an NFL perspective? Fantasy owners... well, we ask for more ... and more.... and more! Week 3 will see the Titans and Rams squaring off. That should be a high scoring affair. How the Tenny' D handles Ram RB Steven Jackson will be interesting, especially given the team's dearth of playmakers in the Secondary. Look for the Rams to AIR IT OUT... thus, giving Jackson ample room to roam. By the same token, Week 3 affords the Ravens a BYE. The quality "alone time" will give the wayward franchise an opportunity to take stock of things, for their season is already on the brink of disaster. QB Kyle Boller's injury may require surgery, but that's merely the dot on the bottom of the question mark he represents. At this point in his career, Boller should be grasping the reins of the team. He is doing no such thing. RB Jamal Lewis's owners shouldn't despair. Yet. Lewis can still shake out of this fantasy funk. However, if the reports are correct, and he indeed DID work out for 12 hours a day whilst' in "Da' Joint" ... Lewis may be over-trained, over-worked, and over-valued.


Buffalo at Tampa Bay: "...whattya' make of Losman? Whattya make of Cadillac Williams? And whattya make of an aging but still formidable "Bucca-D?" It would seem that Losman's the real deal, though he remains wet behind the ears." Mmmmm. mmmm, mmm, mm, m! (to be uttered while shaking your head from side-to-side) Tampa Bay's offense is in cruise-control, with QB Brian Griese at the wheel. Griese is, however, along more for the ride than anything else. During Senior Week, Buc' coach Gruden fell in love with his rookie back, Cadillac. Now, we see why. Williams runs effortlessly; he seems to glide. Further, the runner possesses deceptive strength, displays excellent balance, and is poised beyond his years. Tampa Bay has always been known for it's formidable defense; LB Derrick Brooks is a force of nature, and pass rusher Simeon Rice, with a Sack in each game, can still get after the QB. That being said, Cadillac Williams threatens to shatter records.The dude rumbles through opposing defenders the way a Tractor does a field of wheat... and that's no lie! In consecutive games... Okay, we've only played 2... but just go with it... Williams has hung a combined 51 carries, 276 rushing yards, and 2 TDs. Just wait until he really becomes comfy-cozy with the playbook! As for the team's other skill po' players, receiver Michael Clayton has been unspectacular at best the past 2 weeks; 10 receptions, 131 yards, no TDs. Much like the Buccaneers opponent, it would seem as if Tampa will hop on the Cadillac and see how far he can take them. One concern I would have... Williams' work load. Gruden needs to garage the Cadillac with greater frequency. No more Cadillac puns, I promise. Last year's feature runner, Michael Pittman; he tore it up. Pittman accrued 66 yards on 10 touches, including 20 receiving yards. Williams and Pittman form a nasty 1-2 running back punch; each possesses feature quality, and look for Tampa to experiment with a variety of backfield alignments. Now, the Bills are a team currently lacking an identity. DO they hang their collective hat upon a relentless defense? Are they... a smashmouth team, ramming RB Willis McGahee down foes maws? Or, are they grooming their athletic, cannon-armed, surprisingly elusive young QB to take advantage of the impressive receiving combo at his disposal? Logic would dictate that the Bills will find their path. The aggressive Bucca'D confused and abused young master Losman, Sacking him twice and batting away 7 passes. The NFL scheduling committee sends the Buccaneers to face their divvy’ rival Packers this week. Given GB’s lack o’ D, Tampa B’ and running back Carnell “The C.” are rock solid starts this week. The Buccaneer D should be able to keep Losman and Willis McGahee in relative check. If…IF the Bill’s can get their passing game going, then Willis will be much tougher to contain. As it stands, though, assuming you have other complementary backs… I’d sit McGahee against Tampa’s impressive unit.

Detroit at Chicago: “Too much Lion O-talent, too little experience for Baby Bear Kyle Orton. While the Lions, most likely, will NOT have an easy time of it... the Bears will struggle to score points.”
With luck, I’ll not be remembered for this particular prognostication! Yes, the Lions DO have ample offensive talent. However, an Indy’ car is only as good as its driver. While the Pit Crew is instrumental… at the end of the race, the driver bathes in praise… or absorbs all the criticism. Detroit QB Joey Harrington, in year 3, looks like a rookie. Real rook’, Baby Bear QB Kyle Orton appeared much calmer and commanded the respect of his teammates via his efficient performance. Fans held such high hopes for the Motown club. Those hopes have been dashed. With no one else to turn to… and make no mistake, if he were healthy Lion backup Jeff Garcia WOULD have been cramming his hands under the Centers’ butt by half-time… the Detroit coaching staff has no alternative BUT to allow Joey Harrington to make a mockery of the club. In an act of sheer desperation, the Lions ran out Orton’s draftmate, QB Dan Orlovsky. Orlovsky completed 2 of 6 passes for 20 yards. At least he didn’t throw a pick or take a Sack! It wouldn’t be a shocker if the club, in a division that is much weaker than it was originally projected to be, scours the ‘Wire and other teams’ rosters for a possible starter. With Harrington leading the offense, this club is utterly listless. WR Roy Williams and his 1 TD on 96 receiving yards were the lone bright spot for the team. Williams built upon a very solid week 1 performance. With the team eye-balling a 3 score deficit by half-time, Stud back Kevin Jones was rendered all but useless. “KJ” notched all of 8 carries and has yet to reach the end-zone. Of note: Due to the ineffective D-Troit passing game, opponents can stack the box… thus, Kevin Jones is averaging a little more than 3 YPC.
The fantasy news outta’ Tampa is so much brighter… as is the weather. Contrary to popular belief, rookie runner Cedric Benson is nowhere near assuming the feature back duties. Late blooming RB Thomas Jones racked up 139 yards and a pair of TDs on 20 totes Sunday. And, on the season, Jones has rolled for 170 yards and 3 scores on 35 carries. For a guy who was largely assumed to be a non-factor entering the season, Thomas Jones refused to cede the starting job and has acquitted himself remarkably well. Unlike the Lions’ soft offense, the Bear O’ is still eating meat! Bear cub QB Kyle Orton has embraced the starting job with remarkable aplomb. Initially, Chad Hutchinson was backin’ up injured starter, Sexy Rexy Grossman. Orton, who flashed some pre-season skillz’, was good for 150 yards and a TD. Look for both Orton and Jones to have solid days against a Cincinnati D that can’t match it’s hi-octane O.
Much like the Ravens, the Lions are a franchise adrift. And again, much like the Ravens, the Detroit Lions MUST take stock of themselves during this week’s Bye. With the Minnesota Vikings looking like an expansion franchise and the Green Bay Packers as defensively competent as pre-schoolers, Detroit still has an opportunity to challenge for the division. If the team can squeeze some credible Quarterback play… from ANYONE, the team has the skill position players to take advantage of ‘em.

Jacksonville at Indianapolis: “Indy' continues to roll... For the Colts, much like Baseball's New York Yankees, the regular season is just a prelude... the opening act- We're really waiting for the post-season.” Indy’s D looks to be the 2nd coming of the Steel Curtain. The team oozes youthful defensive exuberance… and brace yourself; it was the defense that quite arguably won the day! Swift, young defenders pressured the hell out of Lefty’, Sacking him 6 times, and allowed Peyton Manning and company to play average Football. The team will, however, need both of its top receivers to step up their games. RB Edgerrin James (128 rushing yards) surrendered Goalline touches to Dominic Rhodes last season… this year, RB Ran Carthon could see some serious stripe-work. Jacksonville’s offense doesn’t match its defense in intensity. Veteran Jimmy Smith had the most productive receiving day with 49 yards on 3 catches, and RB Fred Taylor took his 18 carries for 81 yards; that’s a 5.1 YPC average. Of interest is the play of RB Greg Jones. Although he’s listed as a FB and backup, the big cat ran for 29 yards on 3 carries… he could see some Goalline totes. Look for Indy to wax Cleveland this coming week… and RB Edgerrin James should finally cross into the blue and notch a TD. QB Peyton Manning should vent his frustrations on the Brownies’, as will WRs Marvelous and Reggie. TE Dallas Clark is being worked back into the offense… at some point in the not-too distant future, his remarkable knack for finding the soft spots in coverage will manifest themselves. In short, look for a BIG fantasy day from Indy’s skill playaz’.

Minnesota at Cincinnati: ”Look for the Cats to maul Minny'... as Minny' won't be able to declaw both Cincy's run game AND it's passing game. Still, this game should be one of the most exciting shootouts since the O.K Corral last saw gun-play! “
I shudder with utter contempt at what I’ve seen from the Viking offense. The supposedly re-tooled D looks a heck of a lot like last year’s model, and head coach Mike Tice is as sharp as a bowling ball. If he’s not the first head coach to earn his walking papers… then he’s got incriminating pictures of new team owner Zyggi Wulf in a Safety Deposit box somewhere. Purple pepper passer Daunte’ Culpepper has been a human blooper clip. Only… his play isn’t funny, his play has been sad. A previously gracious Cincy D’ picked Culpepper off no less than 5 times and Sacked him twice. On Sunday evening, C-Pepp’ was able to boast a Passer Rating of 36.4 for the day… and 41.6 for the season. That my fantasy friends, is a far cry from his career 91.5 mark. Many’s the fantasy owner who felt confident that C-Pepp’ would rebound against the Bengal Secondary. And, many of those same owners were forced to reach for the “Costco” size jugs of Peptol-Bismol when Culpepper’s final fantasy numbers were posted. In most leagues, C-Pepp garnered a single point. Well, that’s an improvement over Week 1’s negative 8 point “explosion!” Further, the Bengals stuffed the Viking run game. But really… with the Vikes down 27 to zip by half-time, WHAT RUN GAME! Minny’ has a serious issue on its hands. The loss of Moss is proving to be difficult; just watch Raider QB Kerry Collins toss jump ball after jump ball to Moss. The real issue for the Vikings isn’t Moss’s departure, however. The defection of top notch Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan to Miami is what’s killing the Vikings. He, not Moss… not Culpepper… not Tice, Linehan was the genius behind the Viking’s offense. Just watch as he and ‘Phin coach Nick Saban turn that Miami franchise around in relatively short order… once a legit’ franchise QB is in place. Could Matt Leinart don the Dolphin teal and white? Wait, I digress. Alleged #1 Viking pass catcher Nate Burleson has been an absolute disappointment. “Nate’s been anything BUT great,” with 98 total yards on 6 receptions. RB Michael Bennett has “rumbled” for 36 yards on 9 combined carries… and, he’s already put the ball on the ground twice. Second-year man Mewelde Moore fared marginally better… on 8 totes, Moore rushed for 29 yards. But, he managed to cling to the rock. The Vikings have a lot of work to do… that work may well begin with a new head coach. The Bengals are no longer the “Bungles!” I’ve been lovin’ QB Carson Palmer since last season. If he knew just how much… both he and my wife might be uncomfortable! Umm, anyway, Palmer went *BOOM* for a ridiculous 337 yards and 3 TDs Sunday. And, as I suspected, the Viking D was unable to cage their big cat, WR Chad Johnson. The Beng’ pass catcher mauled Minny’ to the tune of 139 receiving yards and 2 TDs, with a long of 70 yards. Houshy’ indeed found the Vike Secondary to be “cushy,” and as stated, he was a great fantasy start with 55 receiving yards and a TD. Keep an eye on rookie receiver Chris Henry. Fast-becoming a “go-to” guy, Henry hauled in 3 for 45. Week 3 will pose a serious challenge for Cincy’. It will be a true test of their mettle. Facing the Bears, look for QB Carson Palmer to pounce on a very good Secondary… a Secondary that will, however, have trouble trying to rein in 3 very talented receivers and a Pro Bowl caliber runner, Rudi Johnson. The Vikings knock heads with the Saints… expect Saint runner Deuce MCAllister to have a very nice day against a rather generous Viking run defense. Likewise, the Viking QB should be able to hang some yards on a Saint defensive backfield that had trouble with young G-Man, Eli Manning. I would, however, sit the entire complement of Minny’ Running Backs… and if I had another Quarterback of consequence… I might consider starting him as well. Heresy you say? I think not. Culpepper and his offense are a mess right now… and it’s going to take more than a week and some meetings to right this particular ship.

Monday, September 19, 2005

FANTASY BASEBALL AND NFL NOTES FROM WEEK 2

Many of us have seen our fantasy Baseball seasons go down the tubes. Disappointing and or poor seasons from top notch hurlers such as Oakland's Rich Harden, the Yankees Big Unit, The Cubbies' Kerry Wood, Philly's Jon Lieber, and Toronto's Roy Halladay to name but a few... how 'bout the Closers? Armando "Osama" Benitez just returned from DL-land... no Closer is more "un-clutch." Or, how ya' likin' the decision Oakland's Octavio Dotel made, to have elective surgery? The Dodgers certainly miss the shut-down pitching of Eric Gagne... will he turn out to be a flash in the pan? The workload he was subjected to was ridiculous. Position players? Philly's power hitting 1st Baseman Jim Thome never got rolling; his season concluded on July 1st due to a right elbow that required surgery. The Chi-Sox's "Big Hurt" is ALWAYS hurt. Frank Thomas fractured a foot... he was toast, for good, July 21st or so. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were anxious to see what promising 3rd baseman Dallas McPherson was all about. Striking out once every 3 or so ABs and surgery on his left hip later... Anaheim still doesn't know what is has in Dallas. And, while I could certainly go on, Tampa Bay surely misses the speed and defense OF'er Rocco Baldelli brought to the plate. With luck, he'll be back in time for Spring Training.

Let's take a quick "Round' the Horn" look at some surprise "Keepers" for NEXT season.

FIRST BASEMEN

Indians: Ben Broussard: This dude is coming on as strong as a Taxi Cab driver's body odor. Swatting .255/19/62, Broussard has been seeing the ball well, is a house 'afire of late, and seems to have cemented a place for himself within Cleveland's youth movement.

Braves: Adam LaRoche: I was singing LaRoches praises at the beginning of the season... and I again mentioned him in my "1st Baggers; Amid Season Report." While ageless wonder Julio Franco's powerful bat has forced Atlanta to play him, costing LaRoche valuable plate appearances... there is no doubt that the young LaRoche is part of Atlanta's future. Currently, LaRoche is hitting .254/17/71 and has a mere 77 Ks in almost 420 ABs.

Phillies: Ryan Howard: Here's another athlete I promoted due to his prodigious power potential! Although he's no youngster, born in '79... Howard's been trapped behind Jim Thome. Once Thome went down with that elbow thing... it cleared the way for this kid. With a line of .289/18/50 in a half season's worth of ABs... the future Philly 1st Sacker has an impressive SLG % of .549 and an OPS of .904.

SECOND BASEMEN

Rockies: Clint Barmes: Barmes was a near lock for ROY honors until he suffered an injury that wiped out most of his season. Currently, the very versatile (he can play Short as well) Rockie is hanging a line of .302/9/39. His speed is an asset as well, and Barmes has 17 Doubles, a Triple, and 5 thieved bags in 285 plate appearances.

Devil Rays: Jorge Cantu: Cantu Can Do! Must I repeat myself... must I? Okay, I'm happy to- I on Cantu like white on rice. This guy's not only draftable... in a league boasting few power hitting 2nd sackers, Cantu and his ability to man other positions are "Keeper" worthy! As of today, Cantu's hitting a nifty .288/25/105, with 38 Doubles and an OPS of .809.

Brewers: Rickie Weeks: Weeks has great promise. He's probably not worth expending a Keeper slot upon... but he IS worthy of a mid-round flyer. Lookin' at his current diggies', the .238 batting average won't take your breath away... but the speed will. Weeks has 9 Doubles, 2 Triples, and has swiped 10 bags with only a single "caught stealing" to his record.

SHORT STOPS AND 3RD BAGGERS TO FOLLOW!

NFL NOTES:

Kerry Collins will look like a world beater one moment... and an egg beater the next. Often times, the 2 side of Collins manifest themselves within the same series! Collins' value lies not in his arm... no, Collins' value lies in Randy Moss. Have you what Daunte Culpepper's done with the Moss-loss? C-Pepp has more turnovers than your local bakery! It would appear, Viking fans, that WR Nate Burleson is no #1 pass catcher. Further, that team is struggling to get it's ground game going. RB Onterrio Smith isn't the reason the team ran with such success last season... the Vikings' ability to run on opponents was attributable to the respect foes had to accord Culpepper to Moss. RN Mewelde Moore did little to impress yesterday, same thing with Michael Bennett. The Bears could even place higher than this Viking team.

More when I have time later