Week 5 Waiver Watch: Thing 1 and Thing 2

I am a dog person. I love the way they are happy to see you when you get home despite the fact that you left them alone all day. I love that they go from sleeping lazily on the couch to hyper-play mode in 1.3 seconds at the site of a ball. I love that they always seem to occupy a much larger portion of the bed when you wake up in the morning than they did when you fell asleep last night. I love dogs because of their unyielding loyalty and need to carve out a role in the pack that is your family.  In short, I love dogs because of their strong sense of self: they know what they are, and they know what they aren’t.

However, this general rule does have it’s exceptions.  On some occasions I will take my dog (3-year-old Australian Shepherd) to the “dog park”.  For those of you that are cat people (communists), this is a gathering place for K9s and owners alike.  It is basically a cluster-bomb of crazy dogs, prissy dogs, horny dogs, playful dogs and mean dogs.  It’s a lot like college in that way.  The exception to my dog loving rule comes in the form of the prissy dog.  These overgrown rats with the bulging eyes, twig-like legs and quivering disposition seem to have problems identifying their natural place in the pecking order.  These are the animals which nature is trying it’s best to “select” for removal from the face of the Earth but we humans, we love our genetic mutants.

On several occasions one of these yappers has managed to free themselves from their Frankensteinian owners and has run up to my pup in what can only be described as an attempt to pick a fight.  They will bark at her, growl at her and even try nipping at her in what is a clear fit of envious genetic rage.  Me being a scientific observer, I generally let the drama play out to it’s predictable conclusion before intervening.  Typically my pup will entertain their vocal protests but when that first attempted nip takes place she will take the instigating creature between her jaws and either pin them firmly to the ground or rag-doll them like her favorite chew toy.  She never hurts more than their pride but I can’t help but thinking as I look down at the pint-sized pooch now lathered in my dog’s drool, “what the hell did you think was going to happen?”

That’s why when I heard that NFL wide receiver Braylon Edwards had thrown a punch at LeBron James’ 130-pound buddy outside of a Cleveland night club, my reaction was quite similar … “what the hell did you think was going to happen?”  I have crossed paths with enough prissy dogs and 130-pound yappers in my time to know exactly where Edwards was coming from when he decided enough was enough.  The fact that the featherweight filed a complaint which now looks like it was a false accusation lends further support to my yap-dog theory.  Whatever the case, I applaud Braylon for his willingness to let nature take it’s course and congratulate him on his recent escape from the fantasy hell that is Cleveland, Ohio.  I give you my week 5 waiver tips … because we are all Witnesses.

Thing 1: This WR has totalled 11 catches for 214 yards and 1 TD so far in 2009.  He has disappointed early in the year and now may miss a game or two with an injury.  He is currently owned in 100% of ESPN leagues.

Thing 2: This WR has totalled 17 catches for 271 yards and 0 TDs so far in 2009.  He has come on strong and may be the new favorite target for his respective team.  He is currently owned in 9% of ESPN leagues.

Reality Check: Thing 1 is Roy Williams and Thing 2 is Kenny Britt.  I gave Britt’s teammate Justin Gage some love in an earlier column but the rookie out of Rutgers may have overtaken his fellow wideout for targets.  At 6’3″ and 218 lbs. Britt has the ideal frame of a red zone target despite his lack of scores so far this season.  Nate Washington will make the occasional big play and Gage is still in the mix, but going forward I like Britt a lot if you are looking for consistent weekly production with considerable upside as well.

Thing 1: This TE is off to a slow start this season but has still caught 23 passes for 212 yards and 1 TD.  He is one of the most reliable receiving targets on his team and is currently owned in 100% of ESPN leagues

Thing 2: This TE is off to a nice start this season and has caught 24 passes for 181 yards and 2 TDs.  He is also one of the most reliable receiving targets on his team but is owned in just 18% of ESPN leagues.

Reality Check: Thing 1 is Jason Witten and Thing 2 is Heath Miller.  Miller probably won’t be near Witten in terms of yardage or receptions at season’s end, but he is one of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite red zone targets and he may be able to haul in 7-8 TDs before all is said and done.  Miller has some of the softest hands in the league and his ability to block means he stays on the field for the majority of Pittsburgh’s plays.  I like for him to finish as a top-10 fantasy TE and he can be had in many leagues for the price of a waiver claim.

Thing 1:  This QB has completed 59.6% of his passes for a bad team.  His sample size is still relatively small but for the most part you know what you are getting here.  He is owned in 83% of ESPN leagues.

Thing 2:  This QB has completed 53.1% of his passes for a bad team.  He recently took over the reigns of this offense and the jury is still out on him.  He is owned in 1% of ESPN leagues.

Reality Check:  Thing 1 is Matt Cassel and Thing 2 is Josh Johnson.  Hear me out on this one.  Presumably you are not starting either of these guys on a regular basis but I am intrigued by Johnson’s upside and in my opinion he has better playmakers around him on offense.  In addition to being a very intelligent passer (among the highest ratings in the country while at USD), Johnson has tremendous athletic ability and can make plays with his legs when the pocket breaks down.  Top pick Josh Freeman is not ready so Johnson will get some leash to play with and has some nice matchups coming up if you are in need of a bye week fill-in.

Thing 1:  This RB has totalled 198 total yards and 1 TD on 54 touches (3.7 ypt).  He is banged up and could miss several weeks before returning to action.  Currently he is owned in 99% of ESPN leagues.

Thing 2: This RB has totalled 249 yards and 2 TDs on 39 touches (6.4 ypt).  He has taken the lead role while his injury-prone backfield mate is nursing an injury.  Currently he is owned in 37% of ESPN leagues.

Reality Check: Thing 1 is Darren McFadden and Thing 2 is Rashard Mendenhall.  Boy does it look like I was wrong on Mendenhall.  Most of his production in the NFL has come in one shining week but for the first time I saw the strong running and determination to hit the hole that made him a #1 pick out of Illinois.  I doubt he will sustain this level of production (especially when Willie Parker returns to share the load), but tasty matchups against the Lions and Browns in the next two weeks mean that Mendenhall should not be available in leagues of any size.  Go get him and enjoy the ride.

Fantasy Football News: Ten for Tuesday

This is where Lucky Lester breaks down NFL news (usually from the week that was and usually 10 newsworthy happenings) and how it effects fantasy football owners going forward. Let the games begin… Now! We can’t wait until Thursday!

Matt Cassel was back at practice on Monday, going through all the drills and looking relatively healthy in doing so. If you’re starting the youngster, who is pitching pigskin for an offense that scored just two touchdowns this pre-season, on a team that is going up against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore – then you have more to worry about than Cassel’s kneesies…   LenDale White not only feels no regret from his terrible towel stomping escapades of yesteryear, he’d do it again, and he expects to. Luckily, we don’t have to wait too long for this to play out, as opening night sees Pittsburgh come to Tennessee for what promises to be a big one. On the matter of big and LenDale White, most would enter a fat joke here – but the young TD machine lost 20 pounds this off-season, and looks to have lost some of that baby fat that was holding his break-away speed back. He has looked better than Chris Johnson this pre-season – but that’s just the pre-season…   Speaking of the Titans, Kenny Britt might be a guy to stash away for this week’s game. He’s not owned in most leagues, but the kid is a beast, no doubt about that, and I’m pretty sure he’s starting. If he shows well against the Steelers, I don’t think he’ll go back to the back-up role, and at the very least you could have nice trade bait. If it doesn’t work out this Thursday, just drop him and pick up that other 16th guy on your roster instead…    This past weekend Tila Tequila (nice name for a tramp) called in a citizen’s arrest on Shawne Merriman for “choking her and holding her against her will”. Sounds bad, but the more I read the more I think this thing will blow-over, regardless of what actually happened. Now I’m almost always on the side of the accuser in these cases, usually to a fault, but this girl is a full blown gong show, and every poor ace-hole that accidentally ran across her stupid show, when they pushed the channel up button too fast, knows it. I’m not saying Shawne’s guilty or innocent, but he is guilty of dating one of the crazier funny-looking fake chicks in the universe. Miss Tequila had more than a couple Tequila shots prior to the incident and Merriman claims to have been “just keeping a friend safe…” All that being said, I would hate to be the Raiders’ offense this weekend. Shawne’s one bad-bad football man, and having charges brought against him by a crazy reality TV star probably won’t cool him off for Sunday’s action. I wouldn’t even want to practice against the guy this week… I’ve always been a huge fan of Sammie Stroughter since his early years at Oregon State. The former Beaver has gone through some tough times, and emerged as a stronger guy because of it. After getting picked late on day 2 of they ’09 NFl Draft, Stroughter has been strong in Bucs’ Camp, and has been recently named the #3 receiver in Tampa. Now I don’t think Tampa will throw much more than 45% of their offensive snaps, but for those deep dynasty league owners, this kid is legit…   Matthew Stafford was named the starting quarterback, but I wouldn’t be stunned at all if Culpepper got the job back a few games into the season. Stafford has a strong arm, no doubt, and his touch isn’t bad, but I watch him play and I don’t think he’s ready. I’ll admit that he has a bright future, but after a couple weeks of struggling, and a couple weeks for Culpepper to be completely healthy, I think the job goes back to the ex-Viking…   That being said, Brandon Petitgrew was also named the starter for the Lions, and he’ll be a solid option regardless of who stays at QB. BP came in with Stafford this year, and I’m sure their relationship is strong because of it. Pep loves throwing to TEs, and you know defenses will be most focused on Calvin Johnson and then Kevin Smith. As a 3rd option for a team that expects to be playing from behind, I like Petitgrew’s upside…   Tim Hightower was named the starting RB in Arizona, and I don’t think that’s just a one-week gig. Many people will say that the Cardinals didn’t waste a 1st rounder on a RB to see him be a back-up, but that’s actually happened a lot. It’s not so long ago that the Cardinals were high on Hightower, and the guy put in work this off-season and looks faster and smarter with his cuts this pre-season. Beanie Wells will get touches, but he didn’t get drafted to take the starting job, he got drafted because he was the most talented player left on the board. No promises were given…. Eric Mangini is up to his old wiley ex-Patriot tricks again, not naming a starter to the public. Who cares, first of all – you shouldn’t. If you do, it must be because you are a Browns fan, or stuck with one of these guys as a back-up, and in that case you had to see some pre-season action, look at the way the team has reacted, the way the ball was moved with one guy or another, it’s pretty damn clear to me that Quinn is the guy in Cleveland….   Pierre Thomas didn’t practice Monday, and that means those that got Reggie Bush late have a very talented starting running back, that was amongst the league leaders before going down with an injury last season, going up against the vaunted Lions defense in Week 1. It has baffled me all summer/fall to see Bush going so late, especially in PPR leagues. Is he a chance? Sure, but a chance well worth taking. It seems his hype became too much to handle and the guy turned into fantasy owner poison. Put that on pizza and beer and your bound to cause a mass epidemic aimed toward fat guys 10x as deadly as swine flu.

Football this Thursday! See you next Tuesday!!

Wing Man!: Not Every Superhero needs a Sidekick

History supports what I’m saying here, not always can the dynamic of two super personalities, amazing talents, wonderfully crafted names and/or awkwardly revealing spandex outfits, fit together like Steve Young and Jerry Rice, Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson, or even a more well-known duo, Batman and Robin (and even the last two heroes might find it tougher together nowadays)… In fact, if you look at the big picture, it becomes more and more evident that not every Super-Hero needs a Sidekick. In fact, most of the big name stars produce more box office fantasy potential all by themselves in their own little uniforms (As you can easily recognize that even Batman does his best movies sans his puffy feathered bird of a sidekick).

There are a few guys I’m looking at this year where a certain sidekick is digging into the main man’s cover-value, and even a couple more stars that are getting matched up with other stars – two superheroes do not always make a friendly team: Wolverine, Punisher, Spiderman, Captain America.  You have to remember, when a team gets better, a fantasy player doesn’t always improve.

Scrappy Doo basically crushed a very good cartoon of young crime fighters. Scooby was doing a fine job begging for Scooby Snacks, being a scaredy dog, and being his pot-head friend’s best bud. All Scrappy did was come in and steal some of the spotlight, and since everyone loves a puppy, soon he was getting too much attention. Suddenly, the drop off happened and Scooby and his friends have never quite recovered.

And what about Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s pal, one of the only guys to know Supe’s identity – well, all he did was get his buddy into trouble at every turn. Did Superman ever need Jimmy? I think not.

Wolverine vs. Punisher? Spiderman fighting Captain America? It’s amazing that a couple guys looking for the same thing (in both instances) could get into such a fiasco with each other – but it happens.

These things happen in the “fantasy world” and they also happen in fantasy football. This season there are some sidekicks ready to help the team all the while stomping out some fantasy fire of their own teammates. And while most of these guys play for wins and losses instead of statistical superiority – the truth of the matter is… You and I don’t. Not in fantasy football anyway. So which gridiron heroes will have their value cut down to size by the Scrappy Doo’s, Jimmy Olsen’s, Wondergirl’s and Aqualad’s of the National Football League? Follow along closely…

Matt Cassel and Tyler Thigpen

This seems like the easiest one around. Matt Cassel found a new home with a new offensive genius taking over in Kansas City. But what about Thigpen? What about the guy that dominated down the stretch? What about Tyler Thigpen? If you look back at last season’s stats, you will see two new teammates ranked 2nd and 3rd amongst quarterbacks during last season’s second half. That’s right, you guessed it, Tyler Thigpen is number 2 and Matt Cassell was number 3. That Top 5 list looks like this… Drew Brees, Thigpen, Cassel, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers. So, while many people probably don’t even know who Tyler Thigpen is, as he was really only a super hero fantasy star to those that picked him up for a late run into the post season (yes, that was me in more than a couple instances), he was still a star. Thigpen was 3 points shy of Drew Brees during those 10 weeks, and Brees had a brilliant season. But Cassel has the job, and surely Thigpen will suffer most in this match up of free agent pick ups turned fantasy playoff super heroes of 2008 turned teammates of 2009. This season will mark the first time in history that this situation will ever have taken place. Two young quarterbacks with huge statistical seasons meet up on the same team the very next year. But it is what it is, and Matt Cassel will be crushing the fantasy relevance of his teammate, and higher rated fantasy performer of last year’s second half. The team has gotten better, but Thigpen has lost his way.

Jay Culter and Matt Forte

Both players became fantasy stars in 2008. Matt Forte did so in his rookie season for a Bears team that used him as their main weapon, finishing a win away from the playoffs. Forte was as consistent as fantasy stars get, putting up solid numbers week after week as the Bears gave him the ball early and often. Jay Cutler was Mike Shanahan’s little buddy, a coach in uniform, the son he always wanted. Jay got the green light to throw any ball he wanted any time, and while that made Cutler one of the best fantasy quarterbacks in football, it also ended Splinter’s long run as the head coach in Denver. That led to Josh McDaniels getting the reigns for the Broncos, which led to Cutler having a fit when McD wanted his former QB, which led to bagels being just another way to get cream cheese to your face, which led to Jay Cutler getting traded for 2 first round picks, a couple more picks, and a 6 pack of Chicago’s best brew. That dysfunctional set of circumstantial dominoes led to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, two rising fantasy stars, to meet up in Chicago’s backfield. Well goodness me. But whose value is effected more? Well, I would imagine that both players have a slight hit in value, but both could see their efficiency ratings moving on up. Crazy how fantasy and actual football can be so different. Matt Forte is likely to see less 8 man fronts (if any), while Cutler is likely to see more open secondaries with defenses actually paying attention to the run game in his offense. But, Forte will get less carries, less catches, and likely less touchdowns in 2009. Jay Cutler will almost surely have less yardage, fewer touchdown passes, while continuing to throw interceptions this season with the Bears. But Forte will get more yards per carry while Cutler’s QB rating will likely rise. They may make a nice duo, two young guys with their entire comic book careers in front of them, but this year both will suffer in the fantsy realm, losing the numbers from their days as single stars.

Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White

After years of lacking a #1 receiver, the Falcons finally came through with the coming of age of Roddy White. And after years of stumbling around losing seasons without another true offensive threat, Tony Gonzalez was traded to a city of bright fantasy youngsters making a name for themselves in the NFC South. But who will be the star in this receiving situation? The young up and comer or the old school TE that can stake his claim as one of the best ever? Only I have the answer you’re looking for. Both should fail to match last year’s top notch numbers. Say what you want about Dwayne Bowe’s rise to stardom or Matt Ryan being better than the Chiefs’ no-name quarterback last season, but neither piece of information will convince me that Tony G is in a better fantasy situation than he was last season. Last year, Bowe was still just the 2nd fiddle in KC’s passing game, with the attention of opposing defenses collapsing around Tony. And he may be relatively unknown, but I already showed you that Tyler Thigpen was no joke going down the stretch, so stop belittling the guy. Plus, KC threw the ball a lot last year, which is how Tony got so much fantasy love. Likewise, Roddy White was the only real threat in the passing game last season, but the Falcons ran so dang much that defenses had to bite on the play action. Matt Ryan locked onto his number one guy, and reasonably so, White was a yardage gaining machine for the Falcons. Now both top flight receivers will see differences in 2009. Tony Gonzalez will find himself in an offense that runs the ball as much as they throw which should cut down on his chances to get anywhere close to last season’s targets. Not only that but Roddy White is one of the best young receivers in the league, one that 2nd year QB Matt Ryan made a living throwing to in 2008 – so a repeat of last year’s totals should be close to impossible. And for Roddy, you know the Falcons are still going to run a ton, and a great tight end is a quarterback’s best friend, and his notoriety as a receiving threat should have defenses paying more attention to him this season – so his targets will likely fall as well. The Falcons offense should be great, even better than last season’s surprising numbers, but these two super-heroes won’t win as often in fantasy circles.

Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene

This is definitely a case similar to Scrappy Doo’s fuse lighting to the dynamite under Scooby’s career. Thomas Jones had his best season as a pro. If anyone gained value from Brett’s arm last season it was Jones. Thomas finished 5th amongst running backs in non-ppr leagues, making him one of the best fantasy values of 2008. But in comes the younger cuter puppy hero drafted by the Jets. (Actually, Shonn Greene is a beast of a kid and as far as looks go Thomas may have the girls gushing after his bulging biceps, but you get the picture). Still, already Shonn is getting rave reviews in Jets camp, and with a new coach in town there’s no real loyalty to last season’s production. If Coach Ryan learned anything from his time in Baltimore it was that the best player plays no matter if he’s getting paid like Willis McGahee or Le’Ron McClain. That might be just the ignition Greene needs to up-end the 31 year old Thomas Jones’ career. This could definitely be a case of the sidekick back-up unproven option stealing too much of the star’s light, and slowly eating into that profile he worked so hard to build. Drop Thomas in your rankings, yes, but don’t completely ignore the guy. I’ve seen him falling way too far in Fantasy Drafts, and there’s a good chance he’s still a productive piece of the Jets rushing attack.

Chris Johnson and LenDale White

Last season it was Chris Johnson eating into White’s numbers, but this season the roles may be reversed. I’ve noticed Chris Johnson getting lots of fantasy love on draft days. But LenDale is now a much slimmer and still powerful version of himself. Everyone expected Chris Johnson to continue his growing percentage of carries from last season. After starting pretty equal, he was definitely the horse the Titans tried to ride down the stretch. But this season could be a lot more even than people are ready to believe. LenDale has always had a knack for the end-zone with very athletic feet for a big powerful back. Coming into camp in the best shape of his life, running faster than ever, and apparently buying into everything more than ever before makes him a sneaky thief to Johnson’s carries. When you add the often forgotten fact that LenDale is smack dab in the midst of a contract season, he has even more to play for, a future contract and a starting gig (if the Titans don’t want to pay the man his money). So before you draft Chris Johnson with all his speed and excitement and all that man-love you have for him – remember, there’s a big bad touchdown thieving guy from USC that not only has something to prove, but money to earn in 2009. Chris should still be a nice player in 2009, he’s a great young back, but expecting even more impressive numbers in 2009 might disappoint you this season.

Coaching Changes….

There have been some coaching changes in the NFL – and even though the Super Bowl isn’t set, coaching positions will continue to fill in as time passes. So far, there have been a few changes that will surely effect the direction in which these new offenses will move. So far, these are the changes….

Jim Mora taking over for Mike Holmgren in Seattle while Greg Knapp takes over the offense…

Josh McDaniels taking over in Denver…

Jim Caldwell taking over for Tony Dungy in Indianapolis…

Eric Mangini taking over in Cleveland…

Mike Martz out as offensive coordinator in San Francisco as Mike Singletary takes the HC job full time….

Now everything doesn’t depend on coaching, and nothing is for sure, but right off the bat their has to be some things that look good and others that look bad, based not only on a long history but a new start or some old habits that I think will follow each coach to his new position.

Since Jim Mora and Jim Caldwell, since both have been groomed for their new positions, basically waiting in the shadows for their former coaches to call it quits so they could take over. Both coaches inherit teams that have done a lot of winning under their former coaches (Holmgren and Dungy respectively) but Mora’s situation is a little different than Caldwell’s because of each teams success, or in the Seahawks case; lack of success, over the past season.

Jim will start off his tenure in Seattle after the Hawks come off one of their worst seasons in recent memory. The Hawks went through a rash of injuries and close losses to finish as the 4th worst team in the NFL this year. That means they get the 4th pick in the NFL Draft this April. But that’s a long way away, and I just want to talk briefly about Jim Mora’s history and his success in the run-game, and if that will follow him to Seattle. I expect Mora to take more chances than Holmgren did, and I expect the running game to be better than it was last year, but Matt Hasselbeck isn’t quite the type of quarterback that Michael Vick was, and honestly, neither is Senecca Wallace. It will be interesting to see what happens with Matt and his back problems, but I would imagine that the Hawks don’t turn into one of the league’s best rushing teams right off the bat. Michael Vick had to be accounted for at all times, and that opened up a lot of holes for TJ Duckett, and more impressively, Warrick Dunn. But, there weren’t a lot of defenses worried about Vick’s throwing prowess, so things could open up in the run game because of that in Seattle as well. All things being said, I think the 3rd down and 9 draw plays are likely out of the play book – the stop routes might not find a place in Jim’s heart, and history would tell you that Seattle receivers won’t be great options at your next fantasy draft either. All things being said, this personnel is much different than it was in Atlanta, so Mora’s plan of attack may be different as well.

Jim Caldwell’s team is good. They have an on-the-field coach in Peyton Manning and some great pieces. I imagine Marvin Harrison will be gone (mainly because of contract issues), but that just opens things up for Anthony Gonzalez. Gonzo likely moves to Marvin’s spot, and unless the Colts do something to add another receiver, it will open up a lot of things for Dominic Rhodes out of the backfield and Dallas Clark as well. Without a 3rd solid receiver, the Colts would rely more on their 3rd down back and Manning’s solid tight end. Caldwell has been with the Colts for some time, and I seriously doubt much will change in terms of fantasy value amongst those players. Tony Dungy always did a good job of coaching coaches, and allowing those coaches to coach their respective positions and do their jobs – I imagine Caldwell follows that way of work.

Eric Mangini takes over in Cleveland, and there’s no doubt that this guy has a quality offensive mind, it’s just that his play calling is brutal. I’m sure things will get better offensively for the stars in Cleveland, well everyone besides back-up running backs. Time will only tell if Jamal Lewis will be back, but if he is, you can bet that Harrison won’t get much time to show what he’s got. Mangini didn’t give Leon Washington the ball nearly enough in New York, and in all honesty, he didn’t give Thomas Jones the ball enough either. Still, the yards per carry and the originality of the offense will improve. I think Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards are both built for Mangini’s ariel assault, the short timing throws, and their athleticism should up their value heading into 2009’s fantasy season. Still, the play calling from Mangini hasn’t impressed me, and the ups and downs will surely frustrate fantasy owners of Browns – but then again, the frustration couldn’t even get close to last season’s debacle – so move all Browns up a little bit if you ask me.

Josh McDaniels gets praised for his work by Bill Belichick – that’s enough for me. The Patriots get more out of their players than any other team in the league, and McDaniels had  a first hand look at how great teams are supposed to go about their business, attack opposing teams, and prepare for all kinds of situations. McDaniels seems to be a brilliant offensive mind, but there are still some things to be seen from him as a head coach. Will he  be as frustrating as Mike Shanahan was? I doubt it. Mike’s running back carousel probably won’t be something McDaniels goes with, but he did coach in New England, and Belichick used his backs pretty randomly as well – so you never know. One thing I do know is that McDaniels is going to throw the rock, and Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Eddie Royal all moved up a little bit in my book. But one thing you have to remember is that Josh doesn’t have a background of being a head coach, and not all assistants coach just like the guy they coached under – still, with the offensive success under Brady and then Cassel – I seriously doubt that McDaniels has an even based passing and rushing attack. Will he run? You bet – but the pass is going to be what this new offensive mind attacks with, and maybe even more prolifically than Shanny did with the Broncos in ’08.

Mike Martz leaves San Francisco and I’m really, really sad to see him go. Poor play calls, getting his quarterbacks killed, having mediocre QBs throw 35 times a game, basically begging them to fail – yeah, I’m willing to say that Martz is one of the most ridiculously praised offensive gurus in the league. I’m not sure about how the new OC in San Francisco will attack things, but I’m willing to bet that Frank Gore has more runs (around 20-26 per game) and catches less passes next season. Now Frank has always been a great pass catcher, but he’ll be used a lot out of the backfield, because that’s what Mike Singletary wants. I also think that Gore will be better because of this. And so will the 49ers. Will Shaun Hill (or whomever the QB in San Francisco is) be drafted in all leagues? No, because Mike Martz isn’t here and the new offensive coordinator will be smart enough to realize that throwing the ball 76% of the time isn’t smart. So upgrade the run in SF and downgrade the passing game – this is no longer a Martz influenced unit…

Ten for Tuesday

Here’s a little review of some amazing things that happened this weekend, things that I would like to bring to everyone’s attention. 

1. The Oakland freaking Raiders absolutely lambasted the Denver Broncos. Yes folks, everyone’s favorite young quarterback, Jay Cutler, couldn’t do anything right, throwing into double coverage early and often, and paying the price. Even more amazingly, the Raiders only forced JaMarcus Russell into one incomplete pass – one. How pathetic is that? Ever more so, I think that was an intentional throw away. If Denver’s defense was any worse I would get them confused with a combination of the WSU Cougars and UW Huskies. Gross. 

2. Don’t look now but the Falcons don’t seem all that interested in getting carried away with their redemption song and losing their way out of the playoffs down the stretch. They won again at home, and took out a pretty good Panther team that has dominated in games where they have run the ball well. They ran well on Sunday, and they passed alright too, but Michael Turner did dirty work and erupted for 4 touchdowns. Is anybody still questioning this guy? And who thinks Atlanta made the right move by taking Matt Ryan over Glenn Dorsey? Yes, I must admit, I didn’t think that was a very good decision and I was DEAD Wrong about that one. That’s the 3rd time I’ve been wrong in the last 9 years. 

3. Donovan McNabb got benched. We’ll see how that works out. He’s back in action for Week 13, but a guy that has never done all that well with his teammates not believing in him should have trouble, even against the Cardinals secondary. We’ll see – I hope not, but that offense is a joke these days, and Donovan is getting throw right under the bus for Andy Reid’s shortcomings. 

4. Braylon Edwards dropped three more passes. Ahem, when is this trend going to stop?

5. After coming up just short on 3rd down Sunday Night, the Chargers inserted their collective head right in their own tail pipe and called an immediate timeout to think about their next move. Nice work fellas. Whoever was responsible for that timeout should immediately get in-game clock management decisions taken away from him. Instead of leaving the Colts a minute left with the game tied, Peyton and company get 1:30. As it turned out the Colts drive down and get a 51 yard field goal to win the game. How much do you think 30 extra seconds helped them? Well, it was 4th and 1 for the Colts with 26 seconds left, so… Well, I know you can’t assume the Colts wouldn’t have gotten further – but in those precious 30 seconds, the Colts went from the 48 to the 33 and spiked the ball with 2 seconds left. Nobody said anything – well I”M SAYING SOMETHING NOW – What a dumb call Norv, or whoever did it. 

6. The Lions were up 17-0. I was never worried about covering, and even less worried about Warrick Dunn having a big day. Oh the Lions are bad folks, B – A – D. I really think they don’t win a game this year – I know that doesn’t happen, but who are they going to beat?

7. Drew Brees just toys with opposing defenses. Watching him throw perfect bull’s eye darts to his guys running delayed crossing patterns is really a treat. And he’s having an amazing year and on pace to break Dan Marino’s yardage records. However, please recognize Kurt Old Man Wife Look Alike Warner – that guy has been just as amazing. He’s only 68 yards behind Drew, and I think he’s been more consistent. He’s also doing it in Arizona. Do work Kurt! 

8. Matt Cassel made last week look a lot less like a fluke. He threw for over 400 yards again, leading the Patriots past the Dolphins. Is this guy getting paid next year or what? And does he become a nice sleeper keeper in dynasty leagues? I think there’s a good chance of that. Crazy how a year can change a player’s value – just like that he went from everyone saying he should get cut, to everyone’s new favorite QB free agent. Philly, Seattle, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Detroit, St. Louis, Tennessee?, San Francisco, seems like there might be some suiters. 

9. Clinton Portis is a beast – and he’s been pretty damn good all season long, but this Adrian Peterson guy looks destined for the league lead in rushing yards. Portis is up right around 25 yards right now, but the Vikings main man seems to be getting stronger as the season goes forward, and that’s bad news for teams going into Minnesota for the rest of the season.  

10. Those experts that thought Mike Turner was the real deal – you guys are smart. The kid can really run with power, vision, and patience. He’s a bowling ball with lots of speed, and he’ll only get better as the team continues to build around their young talent. And by the way, he’s basically locked up a fantasy lead over the guy he backed up for the last 4 years. (Pat on my own back, basically)

theRUNDOWN Review: Week 7

The old squad didn’t do wonderous things today, oh well – here’s how that game went down… 129 fantasy points in this format just flat out doesn’t cut it. 

QB: Jay Cutler vs. New England: 168 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions… Needless to say, I was dead wrong about this game. It was a bad week for quarterbacks, Cassel lead the group with 25 fantasy points, but Cutler’s 9 fantasy points basically killed me. 

RB: Clinton Portis vs. Cleveland: Clinton was the 7th rated running back with 22 fantasy points, rushing for 175 yards and a touchdown. Portis has beasted every team he’s gone up against this season. 

RB: Marion Barber vs. Rams: 100 yards and a touchdown for Barber, and the Cowboys got way behind to boot. They need to give him the ball even more if they want to win. 16 fantasy points for me. 

FLEX: Greg Jennings vs. Colts: 3 catches for 32 yards – 6 points wasn’t what I was looking for. I definitely underestimated the Colts secondary. 

WR: Brandon Marshall vs. New England: 6 catches for 76 yards, that’s just 13 points. The Broncos were bad, so obviously it didn’t help my cause. 

WR: Andre Johnson vs. Detroit: 11 grabs for 141 yards – AJ was the 7th rated player overall on Sunday, and he didn’t even catch a touchdown. Craziness. 25 points for the beast. 

TE: Jason Witten vs. St. Louis: 6 catches for 44 yards for 10 points. I needed more. 

K: Stephen Gostkowski vs. Denver: 12 points from my kicker, that’s huge for me – probably my best kicker pick ever. Tied for 2nd on the day amongst kickers too. Yahoo! I’ve broken the curse. 

D: Tampa Bay Bucs vs. Seattle: The Bucs defense destroyed Seattle, they got 16 points based on yardage allowed bonuses, and half of the Hawks yards came in the last 5 minutes. Good showing by Tampa. 


Matt Cassel:  His 25 fantasy points lead all quarterbacks for Week 7 – A+

Jason Campbell: 12 fantasy points for Campbell, not too much to write home about. C-

Earnest Graham: 14 fantasy points for Graham, only 54 yards and a touchdown – it looks like I underestimated Seattle’s defense a little bit, but 14’s not a bad day here. B-

Darren McFadden: Just 39 rushing yards for Darren, but 3 grabs for 50 yards gave him 11 fantasy points against the Jets, not too shabby. C-

Vincent Jackson: 4 catches for 42 yards and a touchdown, plus a nice 31 yard reverse scamper. 17 points for the big receiver. 

Lance Moore: 3 catches for 10 yards… Puke. F

Devin Hester: Hester was injured on Sunday, meaning we’ll never know what he could have done… Blast. But, he didn’t score much, so I’ll take my F. 

Greg Olsen: 6 catches for 74 yards and a touchdown – that’s a huge day for a TE, 2nd overall in fact. A+

Dallas Cowboys: Beat by the Rams – handled actually, run all over, stepped on, then spit on for good measure. F

Papa’S Week 6 Splinter-Butts (bench him, son)

Gus Frerotte: 298 yards and two touchdowns – that’s good numbers. 21 in fact. However, Gus’s 4 interceptions brought him down 8 points all the way to 13 fantasy points on the day. Still, that’s not as bad as I figured. 

Willis McGahee: Willis did me in good, he tallied over 150 total yards from scrimmage and scored. He had 20 points and made me look stupid for not starting him. Just like the next guy. 

Adrian Peterson: 121 yards and two touchdowns, just further proving my point that you can’t sit him. Stupid me. 

Chad Johnson: 8 catches for 52 yards and a touchdown – crap, that’s almost his entire seasons’ worth of points – he had a huge day compared to what he’s done. Overall, I sucked with my bench-ems this week. 

Three for Thursday

I thought I’d give you guys three match-ups that look bad or good, but should actually produce well (or poorly) this week. Basically, you think something but WATCH-OUT!!! It might be different than you’d expect. 

1. Michael Turner hasn’t had good days against good rushing defenses, and a while back the Eagles were rated as the top run stuffing group in the business. And they’re still highly rated, but something I’ve recognized has given me new hope for starting Mike this week in Philly. The Eagles started off hot against the run, sure, but they gave up 145 yards to Clinton Portis, and 101 yards to Frank Gore. The Falcons commit to the run and Turner might be okay pounding the ball at Philly’s relatively undersized defense. We’ll see, but I wouldn’t sit Mike just because he’s playing the Guls. 

2. You might think St. Louis is a good time to start Matt Cassel – don’t be so sure. The Rams haven’t had a great season, but they’ve won two straight games, and Leonard Little’s return makes them a lot better defensively. Now offenses will have to pay a lot of attention to him, and against an offense that has allowed plenty of sacks this year, and a quarterback that holds the ball a little too long, in a game the Pats are supposed to win – well, I kind of like Matt to have a bad game this week. Don’t get caught off guard. 

3. Brandon Jacobs, a must start? I’m not sold. The Steelers did give up 67 yards to Le’Ron McClain, and he is the closest thing to what the Steelers will be facing with Jacobs, but Le”Ron is also the leading rusher against the Steelers this season. That’s right, not a single back has eclipsed the 67 yards gained by McClain. And it’s not like PIttsburgh has played bad backs. Steve Slaton has been good this year, he didn’t hit the 50 yard mark in Week 1 – Jamal Lewis was in the 30s in Week 2, Week 3 had Correll Buckhalter and the Eagels ground game get 43 yards – Week 4 was McClain’s 67 – Week 5 saw Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones Drew rush for 26 yards on 15 carries, and Week 6 saw Cedric Benson get 52 yards in a blowout. I know the Giants run the ball well, but I can’t see Jacobs being a stud this week – in fact, I would probably rather start Sammy Morris or even Cedric Benson. Scratch that last one, but you see what I’m getting at.

Ask Papa Weimer: Week 3

Questions and Answers – let the evil genius do his dirty work!!!

Billiam from Southy writes, “Do you really think the Patriots have a chance to win the Super Bowl without Tom in attendance? I just can’t see the Colts doing much without Peyton, the Cowboys doing anything without Romo, and even the Steelers doing work against Pittsburgh – how can the Pats still have a chance?”

Well Billiam (Bill and Williams meshing in one is pure brilliance), I have a feeling Pats do indeed have a chance, and there is one reason why – Bill Belichick. The real Evil Genius has his work cut out for him, no doubt about that, but he can still game plan for anything, this is just considered an extreme challenge. I couldn’t think about a tougher way to win a Super Bowl, or a more awkward pre-season to lose your league MVP – but yes, I still like the Pats chances just about as much as anyone else in the AFC. It’s funny, there were a few seconds there where Cassel looked like he was getting cut, Gutierrez was easily outplaying him, and Matt was really struggling. When you add that to the fact that Cassel looked terrible in his only action last year, it seemed his time in New England was just about over. Then Matt Gutie was cut, Tom was hurt, and here Matt is, the team’s success unpredictably in his hands. I love it. Not as many points- not as many chances on the field -but I still like the Pats to win 11 or 12 and be a tough out in the playoffs.

Douglas from the O asks, “Do you think Jonathan Stewart has officially become the #1 guy in Carolina? I may be a little biased, having taken some classes with Jon last season, but he looks like the better runner and it seems like Carolina is going to him with the game on the line. Can I start him this week?”

You may be biased, but you hit this one right in the O. Except I wouldn’t start him this week, not against Minnesota. I also wouldn’t say he is the “official #1” – in fact, he’s the “official #2” – but very similar to Maurice Jones Drew the last couple years in Jacksonville, the #2 is a better option that the #1 and it seems like hardheadedness and veteran favortism are the only reasons the “backups” aren’t getting more looks. I can see why both Fred Taylor and DeAngelo are starting, don’t get me wrong, but I also see a lot of value and some dynamic ability from these back-ups. Hold on to your former classmate, I think his time will come, and he’ll be one hell of a start.

Rollie from Anchorage says, “How do you like you some Steve Smith this weekend? Would you start him over Eddie Royal and Dwayne Bowe?”

Rollie, you bet. I love me some Steve Smith, and while Eddie Royal looks like a great option, and Bowe doesn’t look like a bad ride either, Steve is probably pretty amped to help his team considering they went 2-0 without him, and he’s the best player in this bunch. As much as anyone, (besides maybe my nephew), I like Eddie Royal – but Steve Smith is what Royal can only hope to become. He’s a less polished version of Smith right now, and while he does play against New Orleans, it’s not like Minnesota’s secondary is solid either. Bowe goes up against the Falcons, a secondary that is also poor, but he has Tyler Thigpen throwing him the ball – could be decent for Dwayne, but he doesn’t have Jake Delhomme or Jay Cutler throwing him the ball, right? Go with Steve Rollie!