The Fire Sale: Spiller, Rodgers finding right fits in new roles
Last week I announced that this will be the final season of The Fire Sale. While I appreciate all the e-mails and comments on Twitter, the time has just come for me to move on to other things in my life. Thanks again though for all the support. I really do appreciate it.
You know what stinks about football? It lasts like 10 minutes. It takes what feels about 20 years to get through summer, and then once the football season kicks off I'm putting up the dang Christmas tree before you know it. Maybe it just feels that way because radio stations start playing Christmas music in October now. We get it. You want us to spend money.
So while it's only been one week, our time together won't last much longer. Soon I'll be arguing with my wife that a 27-pound turkey is too small for Thanksgiving dinner and people will be asking, "Remember when that idiot from SI told us to pick up Ryan Broyles?"
It sure did feel good on Sunday, though. I had my laptop, recliner, a big pan of lasagna and three TVs going. Even though it wasn't cold out yet I wore my sweat pants just to set the right mood. Yes, football is back and with it my subpar fantasy advice.
Speaking of my fantasy advice, boy, did I take it on the chin in Week 1. It was brutal. I'm sure you're dying to read on, huh? Hey, let's take advice from the guy who can't even run his own fantasy teams.
Maybe it's because I'm on my way out the door. You remember what former Steelers head coach Chuck Noll said about retirement don't you? He said if you're thinking about retiring, you're already retired. Maybe my mind isn't in the game. After one week I'm already looking out my window for angry mobs.
So with Week 1 in the books, hopefully things will turn around for old TC. And I am old. Did you see Kevin Butler's son is in the NFL now? Wasn't he kicking for the Bears 10 years ago? How can he have a son? And if you don't know who Kevin Butler is that only makes me feel even worse.
Every year I say the Bills are the worst franchise in sports and every year I get angry e-mails from their fans. Here's my question: Why are you e-mailing me? It's not my fault the team hasn't been to the playoffs since 1999. Instead of yelling at me for stating the obvious truth, stop buying tickets and supporting that joke franchise until they show some kind of commitment to winning.
If you want to know what kind of team we're dealing with, know that they have a stud in Spiller and how do they use him? They keep him on the bench unless Fred Jackson gets hurt. That's how you go 12 years without making the playoffs. Well, why don't we go ahead and just make that 13 years right now.
Let's talk about this for a second. Jackson is obviously a very good running back. I'm not denying that fact. However, Spiller is a special kind of player. That was clear about him coming out of college, and while I'll admit he lost his confidence as a rookie, he's shown flashes of greatness.
He showed that late last season once Jackson went down. So what did Chan Gailey and his coaching staff do to reward Spiller? They put him back on the bench.
Here's my point: Put Spiller on a team with an actual coach and do you think their solution would be to keep him on the bench? Maybe catch a pass or two a game? No way. The Bears have two backs and they find a way to utilize both of them. That's the difference between a good franchise and one that thinks Ryan Fitzpatrick is a starting NFL quarterback.
Over the summer I argued if Jackson got hurt again Spiller was a lock to be a Top-5 fantasy back. Well, Jackson is hurt, so you do the math. If you own Spiller, you got yourself a stud. That's assuming the Bills don't have him split time with Tashard Choice. Hey, nothing that joke organization does will surprise me at this point.
Rodgers only played late in Week 1 but his time is coming. Michael Turner is dead; they just haven't claimed the body yet. A guy like Turner can't do anything with 11 touches a game. It's a waste.
The reason Darren Sproles is so dangerous is because he maximizes his touches, it's not because he gets 20 carries a game. As Rodgers showed on a 77-yard kickoff return, he's the kind of player who can maximize his touches. Give Rodgers 15 touches and three of those might turn into big plays. Give Turner 12 carries and he gets 15 yards.
Sure, the Falcons' coaching staff is being loyal to Turner but his poor fit in Atlanta's new offense is obvious to anyone with eyes. Rodgers' role is going to grow by the week.
Go get Rodgers while you still can. This is your last warning. Oh, and if you're a fantasy owner still starting Turner, stop doing it.
That Ogletree has been one of the worst players on the Cowboys roster over the past couple of seasons isn't my opinion, it's a fact.
Last year in a Monday night game against Washington, with Dallas hit hard by injuries at receiver, Ogletree was inserted into the starting lineup. He kept lining up in the wrong spot and running the wrong routes so often that the coaches were forced to replace Ogletree with a guy Dallas had signed just four days prior. That guy's name was Laurent Robinson.
When you consider how bad Ogletree has been over the last couple of years it makes what he did against the Giants even more remarkable. Granted, Ogletree did most of his damage against corners who probably shouldn't be in the NFL but when you've been arguably the worst receiver in the league since 2009, a performance like that shows at the very least you've improved.
(A quick tangent on another Dallas receiver, Dez Bryant. You know, if Bryant is only going to catch four balls a game, then he isn't worth the headache. If the team isn't going to use him in the second half of games, then he isn't worth the headache. If Bryant isn't going to get looked at in the red zone, then he isn't worth headache.
Guys like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens were headaches but they were also studs. Teams put up with their crap because they exploited their talents. Jerry Jones is making up an array of ridiculous rules for Bryant and for what? So he can get a few targets a game? I don't get it.
And I don't want to hear the Giants were shifting coverage and all that nonsense. The issues mentioned above have been going on for three years now. Defenses shift coverage to Megatron, Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, etc. and those teams still find a way to get them the football.
Either you have a stud receiver or you don't. You can't say you have one and then keep making excuses as to why he's not getting the ball. Throw in the fact that the guy needs a 24-hour babysitter and I'm wondering what's going on here? The bottom line is the Cowboys need to start treating Bryant like a premier receiver and get him the football or stop making special rules for him.)
Ogletree's big opener obscured what was another disappointing night for Miles Austin, who may have David Boston Syndrome. A workout warrior, Boston once walked around with a picture of himself in his wallet he could look at while he worked out Every time I walk by a weightlifting magazine Austin is on the cover looking like a tight end. The guy is huge, which may mean he has lost some of his quickness. We can blame his hamstring but I believe Austin is getting so thick he's having trouble separating from defensive backs.
Austin's miserable night was saved on a late touchdown against that same awful corner Ogletree was burning. If it weren't for that everyone would be down on Austin right now.
So will Ogletree put up Laurent Robinson numbers this year? I'm not ready to jump on that bandwagon yet considering it was just a month ago he dropped three passes in a preseason game. However, with Bryant being used as a decoy and Austin working on becoming a bodybuilder, Ogletree is worth picking up in fantasy leagues.
The way I would play it is if I had room on my roster and my league used a traditional waiver wire system, pick up Ogletree then trade him. Let's face it, his value will never be any higher than it is right now. However, if you use a blind bidding waiver system, don't go blowing your wad on Ogletree. I think that would be a mistake considering his entire career up to this point.
Robinson was arguably the fastest receiver in the country but he was so fast the average SMU quarterbacks couldn't get him the ball most of the time. Rarely have you seen a guy so wide open every week. QB Kyle Padron was so bad I often wondered if June Jones gave out a scholarship to the wrong kid.
Robinson's NFL prospects were unclear because he was raw but he was worth watching. On Sunday Robinson got a chance to play and he caught four balls for 52 yards and a score. Those aren't staggering numbers, but on a team that doesn't have an established pecking order at receiver after Pierre Garcon, it's not bad, either.
Last week we described the Eagles' Damaris Johnson as a guy who just makes plays. Robinson is similar. He's worth picking up if you need some back-end depth at receiver. Though he came in to replace Garcon, Robinson has certainly earned more playing time in the coming weeks. Also, I heard somewhere that Robert Griffin III likes to toss it deep every now and then and Robinson knows how to get deep.
A quick comment on Griffin. It has become clear that a lot of these college quarterbacks are playing in complicated offensive systems. Guys like Art Briles and Gus Malzahn know more about offense than someone like Todd Haley would if he lived to be 1,000.
The systems a quarterback like Griffin and Cam Newton run aren't old college offenses. They get quarterbacks more prepared for the NFL than ever before and we're seeing that on the field over the last couple of seasons. It's just something to think about the next time you hear a stereotype like "RGIII is a running quarterback." Nothing could be further from the truth.
Then on Sunday Hill showed the kind of talent I thought he had. True, the Bills aren't good. But despite the likelihood Hill will be one of those players who is up one week and down the next, he looks better when the lights come on then he does in practice or preseason games.
So I think Hill is worth picking up this week but I wouldn't go nuts trying to get him or expect too much from him. Hill is going to be a very good NFL receiver, but for fantasy purposes, I don't see that coming on a consistent basis until next season.
Listen, I was in the CJ-is-going-to-bounce-back camp, and while I don't want to overreact to one game I also don't hold onto a prediction for two months. We can make all the excuses we want for the guy but the bottom line is we were waiting for a bounce back and after one game it's a miserable failure. There's no other way to put it.
The good news is Johnson saved his day somewhat by catching six passes for 47 yards, so not all was lost. But four yards on 11 carries? That's just not going to get it done. We keep hearing about the old CJ but when the old CJ was running for 2,000 yards I don't remember too many 0.4 YPC days..
I don't really know what to tell you at this point. You can hold onto to him and pray he finally starts to get it together. Still, he's Chris Johnson, so his name will always draw interest on the trade market.
The Titans play San Diego and Detroit in the next two weeks. If CJ can't get it going by Week 4 then saying he'll bounce back will be as outdated as NFL beat reporters giving us actual information we can use. So Randall Cobb isn't ready to contribute and Jermichael Finley is going to lose snaps at tight end, huh? Those Green Bay beat writers are really on top of things aren't they?
While we're on the Steelers, I also wanted to take a second to apologize. I own Antonio Brown in all four of my leagues because I believe he's one of the top receivers in the NFL. I still believe that. But I didn't take into account one huge factor: Todd Haley.
No one factors coaches into fantasy predictions as much as I do. I really take good and bad coaching into account when making my predictions but there's something called human error, and I'm afraid I made one in this case.
You see, Haley arrived in Pittsburgh, looked over the roster and came to the conclusion the offense relied too much on the receivers. Yes, the offense relied too much on Brown, Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders -- by far the strength of the offense. So Haley decided to stop throwing to those guys and use the running backs and tight ends more. Isn't that brilliant strategy?
Let me tell you something about Todd Haley. If you were as bad at your job as he is at his you would never work again. But in coaching, as long as you know someone -- and they all know someone -- you always find work. Todd Haley is the epitome of what's wrong with society.
I'll tell you something else about Haley. He's the kind of offensive coach that feels he must run the ball just to run it. Averaging 1.0 yard per carry in the third quarter and it's 2nd and 10? Let's run it to make it 3rd and 9 just so we can say we're balanced. That's great coaching.
If you can't run it you can't run it. Constantly putting your quarterback in 3rd and longs because you have to run it on every 2nd and 10 isn't helping him. That's awful, awful coaching. Last year Brown was being moved all over the place to create mismatches. Not under Haley. Just go over and line up opposite Champ Bailey. Boy, that's innovative, isn't it?
So while I still love Brown, I'm going through the pain with you. I was wrong, thanks to the Steelers becoming a team of dump-offs and three-yard passes.
Hey, isn't that what got Haley fired in Kansas City, though? Now he just gets to run the offense in Pittsburgh? That's his punishment for being a bad coach? It's comical.
And I don't want to hear about how he took the Cardinals to the Super Bowl either. That's garbage. Ken Whisenhunt runs the Cardinals offense and everyone knows it. That's like saying it matters who the defensive coordinator is in New England. Haley was basically making copies and getting coffee in Arizona.
The only saving grace is Mike Tomlin. He needs to realize this guy is ruining his team and take control. Perhaps Tomlin steps in at some point. He's one of the few coaches who will stand up and take charge. That's our only hope.
I met Matt Cassel when I worked in New England and he was probably the nicest guy I came across in the NFL. I root for him and I think he's gotten the most out of his talent. Cassel has had two good NFL seasons, despite never starting in college and being a seventh-round draft pick. That's not too shabby.
While I like Cassel and think he has far exceeded expectations, the end has come. He can't play anymore. It was clear last year and after one week we're seeing more of the same this year. Cassel reminds a lot of Jake Delhomme late in his career.
Remember at the end of Delhomme's career he just looked awful every time he stepped out on the field? Delhomme was a turnover machine and basically ran around like a chicken with his head cut off. That basically sums up Cassel since the end of 2010.
That brings us to Bowe. At first I was high on Bowe because he's playing for a contract. However, he simply doesn't have a quarterback that can get him the ball consistently. Yes, I'm putting Brady Quinn in the category of "no quarterback." Call it a hunch.
At some point the Chiefs need to decide what they're going to do at the quarterback position. Perhaps Scott Pioli should stop screaming at receptionists and worrying about people spying on him and spend more time finding a quarterback. The Chiefs quarterbacks are currently Cassel, Quinn and Ricky Stanzi. I'm sorry but that's not good enough.
The problem for Bowe is that even if the Chiefs make a change at quarterback it will be going from bad to worse. I think the weeks Kansas City has success on offense it will be when it can just run over teams. When the Chiefs are forced to throw the ball, Cassel isn't consistent enough anymore to produce big numbers, hurting Bowe's production from week-to-week.
Bowe is obviously talented so he could blow up in Week 2. It's the consistency I'm worried about. I own Bowe in a league and my suggestion is to wait for him to have a huge week and then dump him. There will just be too many seven- and eight-point weeks in his future for fantasy owners to count on Bowe all year long.