Fantasy Clicks: Fright ... for old D.C.
Jason Campbell: AP
The following rant isn't a referendum on Lewis' vast NFL coaching career -- which included a successful stint with the Holmgren/Favre-led Packers of the early 1990s. But that was then ... this is now. The last time I had a conversation with Lewis -- as an employee of the Detroit Lions -- occurred on January 3, 2005, the day after Detroit's 6-10 campaign had ended, thus marking the first day of Lewis' retirement from NFL coaching. He shook a few hands, patted a few backs at the Lions' headquarters, while wearing an ear-to-ear grin that told the world, I am officially done with the grind! Fast forward to September 2009, where reports surfaced that Lewis was somewhere in the Midwest ... running bingo tournaments for senior citizens. Fast forward to early October, as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder brought in Lewis to serve as an offensive consultant and become a sounding board for Zorn, who likely wore too many hats with the club (head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach) BUT had never worked with Lewis prior to Sherm's awkward hiring.
Yes, Zorn deserves much blame from Washington's 2-4 start -- while playing arguably five of the NFL's worst six clubs (St. Louis, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Kansas City). Yes, Zorn was a central figure in the Redskins' slow-as-molasses offense, which has yet to take full advantage of Portis' power-rushing talents or QB Jason Campbell's dynamic throwing arm. And yes, the club could probably use a fresh perspective on how to break out of this funk. However, in Snyder's long history of questionable knee-jerk moves, ranging from Deion Sanders and Steve Spurrier to DeAngelo Hall and giving Zorn triple responsibilities before the 2008 season (despite never working as an offensive coordinator at any coaching level) ... handing over the offensive reins to 'Bingo' Lewis certainly takes the cake. Seriously, how can ANY semi-retired coach who has little or no knowledge of a team's personnel, who's been out of the game for five years ... possibly have a positive effect on a franchise that's on the verge of collapsing? There's no real precedent for such a move, except maybe ...
(I'm suddenly having flashbacks to when the Raiders hired Tom Walsh as offensive coordinator before the '05 season. The move was baffling for one reason, in particular: Walsh had been out of the NFL for 10 seasons prior to the hiring ... running a bed-and-breakfast inn full-time. Needless to say, his so-called triumphant return didn't last long ... his basic concepts and conservative play-calling weren't progressive enough for the modern-day NFL.)
My mind is racked with questions right now: Will Lewis be breaking down (and presumably build back up) the throwing motions of Campbell and backup QB Todd Collins? Will he have final say on all offensive play calls? Do Lewis and Zorn even share a similar offensive philosophy? Will Zorn get to sit in on the offensive-only meetings during the week? And what are the odds of Lewis and Zorn ever coming to blows on the sidelines, in a fitting tribute to Kevin Gilbride and Buddy Ryan, circa 1994?
Oh dear lord ... it's enough to make one's head spin for hours, and enough to remove all Redskins (including kicker Shaun Suisham) from fantasy lineups before the club's Monday-night home tilt against the Eagles, as all of America gets a ringside seat to watch the Landover (Md.) Community Clown College that doubles as the Washington Redskins.
Here's a list of prominent-but-struggling players who'll bounce back in Week 7 -- I promise:
1. QB Matt Cassel, Chiefs
2. RB Pierre Thomas, Saints
3. WR Greg Jennings, Packers
4. QB Donovan McNabb, Eagles
5. QB Josh Johnson, Buccaneers
6. RB Matt Forte, Bears
7. RB Darren Sproles, Chargers
8. TE Kellen Winslow, Jr., Buccaneers
9. RB Fred Jackson, Bills
10. RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants
... That QB Kurt Warner is averaging only 286 passing yards, 1 TD/1 INT in eight career starts at the Meadowlands, the site of Sunday night's Cards-Giants clash. There are two ways to digest (or spin) the info: The fantasy optimist could attribute half of Warner's pedestrian Meadowlands stats (four starts) to playing in coach Tom Coughlin's conservative passing offense, circa 2004 -- his one year of leading the Giants -- and that he's averaging 323 passing yards when visiting the venerable stadium. On the flip side ... the fantasy pessimist would credit the infamous wind tunnels at the Meadowlands for keeping Warner in check. (Side note: Weather.com is calling for clear skies and temperatures in the mid-to-upper 50s come kickoff.)
Either way, the following questions must be begged: Can Warner throw for 300 yards and two TDs without Anquan Boldin in the lineup? And can he only do so if the Cards are immediately trailing by three touchdowns, forcing the club to abandon their hot-and-cold rushing attack -- like last year's debacle against the Jets (when Brett Favre threw six touchdowns)? It should be fun to watch, especially for owners who have Steve Breaston to back up Boldin, as part of a last-minute lineup switch.
1. Peyton Manning @ St. Louis
2. Aaron Rodgers @ Cleveland
3. Philip Rivers @ Kansas City
4. Matt Cassel vs. San Diego
5. Tom Brady vs. Tampa Bay (in London)
6. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Minnesota
7. Tony Romo vs. Atlanta
8. Eli Manning vs. Arizona
1. Atlanta @ Dallas
2. Arizona @ N.Y. Giants
3. New Orleans @ Miami
4. New England vs. Tampa Bay
5. Chicago @ Cincinnati
@SportsFanEli asks: I think this is an obvious yes, but should I trade Matt Ryan/Leon washington for Tom Brady? I think Ryan is going to be good.
Answer: Without a doubt, Ryan is one of the league's brightest stars under 25 and possesses excellent short-term and long-term fantasy value. However, surrendering Ryan/Washington is a below-market trade price for someone of Brady's caliber -- especially coming off his six-TD day against Tennessee. This is a no-brainer ... take the plunge for Brady and don't look back!
@juz44 wonders: How big a believer should I be in Knowshon Moreno? I've been offered him and Braylon Edwards in a trade, giving up a 1st-rounder and conditional pick in 2010 (keeper league). That could be big, if Moreno is worth it?
Answer: That offer is crazy! But if you think Owner B's 1st-rounder in 2010 will be in the 9-12 range, go ahead and trade for Knowshon. If not, hold out for a better offer -- perhaps one that benefits your chances of winning a fantasy title this year.
@arl314 poses these questions: Whom do I package Clinton Portis with to get Ronnie Brown? I have Steve Slaton, Leon Washington, Jonathan Stewart, Marques Colston, Calvin Johnson, Johnny Knox, Michael Bush, Fred Jackson, Eddie Royal, Miles Austin and LeSean McCoy. Your thoughts?
Answer: If you REALLY want Ronnie Brown and don't want to play an endless game of "Tag" regarding trade proposals, simply offer Portis/Austin/Stewart as the components to a 3-for-2 blockbuster -- essentially enticing Owner B to add a quality throw-in to the deal. And if he/she should turn that down, just know that Portis and Stewart certainly have the potential to equal or surpass anything Brown does with the Dolphins from this point forward. Thanks!
@kirghizstan wants to know: In a 6-points-per-TD pass league, is there a way I could get a top-4 QB with Steve Slaton, Matt Forte or Carson Palmer as trade bait? I also have Kevin Smith, Julius Jones, Donald Brown, Greg Jennings, Mario Manningham, Kevin Walter, Steve Breaston, Roy Williams and John Carlson.
Answer: I would seldom deal a top RB for a QB ... but why don't you try offering Slaton and Palmer for Rodgers/Rivers/BigBen/Ryan/Romo. And if you're looking to hit a home run by getting Drew Brees, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, you may have to pony up Slaton, Palmer and Jennings to consummate the 3-for-1 bombshell. I'll be honest here: This is a tough call on your part.
@CollegeWolf says: Only decision this week is my flex starter: Manningham or Lance Moore. Who do I play?
Answer: As much as I like Moore's season-long fantasy prospects (when healthy) ... I'd ride Manningham in Week 7 against the Cards' bend-and-sometimes-break secondary. In fact, fellow New York receiver Hakeem Nicks might even be a better play against Arizona (and can likely be found on waivers).
@JBarlow asks: What do you think of this trade offer I just received: Larry Johnson/Derrick Mason for Nate Washington/Roy Williams?
Answer: If you're GETTING LJ/Mason and surrendering Washington/Wiliiams ... by all means, do the deed! If it's the other way around, I'd stick and hold out for better value when dealing LJ/Mason. Believe it or not, both guys should have top-25 second halves at their respective positions, assuming full health.
Yes, this is a fantasy column, and yes, we're at a crucial juncture of the NFL season -- Week 7. But what kind of Michigan native would I be without paying the proper respect to legendary comedian Soupy Sales, who passed away at age 83 on Thursday. Simply put, the man was a Detroit institution -- not only for children of the 1970s and 80s (like myself) ... but also for kids from the 1950s (like my dad, who will undoubtedly be crushed to hear of Sales' passing). I could go on and on about the sheer brilliance of Soupy and his zany band of characters -- some human, some not -- on his daily lunchtime TV program. Instead, we'll just relive Soupy's top 6 YouTube moments:
** 'Soupy & Pookie'
** 'Come Pie With Me'
** 'Pookie Does Motown'
** 'Exotic Lunch' -- this famous clip needs no explanation
** 'Peaches Visits'
**And ... 'A Bug's Short Life' -- Soupy w/ White Fang, Black Tooth and rocker Alice Cooper (and before you ask ... no, I'm not sure why Soupy is dressed like Gilligan).
Andre Johnson (L-R), Owen Daniels, Jacoby Jones: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
A receiver is only as good as his quarterback ... and the number of opportunities he gets to make a catch (known as Targets -- an absolutely critical stat for PPR leagues). This underrated category is the best way to safeguard against one-hit wonders during a looooong fantasy season. To wit, SI.com presents a list of the 30 wideouts with at least 19 Targets since Week 4:
1. Andre Johnson, Texans -- 36 Targets
2. Wes Welker, Patriots -- 36 Targers
3. Hines Ward, Steelers -- 30 Targets
4. Mohammed Massaquoi, Browns -- 29 Targets
5. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs -- 28
6. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals -- 28
7. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks -- 26
8. Steve Smith, Giants -- 26
9. Mark Clayton, Ravens -- 25
10. Eddie Royal, Broncos -- 25
11. Torry Holt, Jaguars -- 24
12. Derrick Mason, Ravens -- 24
13. Miles Austin, Cowboys -- 23
14. Braylon Edwards, Jets -- 23
15. Brandon Marshall, Broncos -- 23
16. Lee Evans, Bills -- 22
17. Terrell Owens, Bills -- 22
18. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars -- 22
19. Bernard Berrian, Vikings -- 21
20. Nate Burleson, Seahawks -- 21
21. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals -- 21
22. Nate Washington, Titans -- 21
23. Kenny Britt, Titans -- 20
24. Mario Manningham, Giants -- 20
25. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals -- 19
26. Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers -- 19
27. Keenan Burton, Rams -- 19
28. Santonio Holmes, Steelers -- 19
29. Randy Moss, Patriots -- 19
30. Reggie Wayne, Colts -- 19
1. Vincent Jackson @ Kansas City
2. Randy Moss vs. Tampa Bay in London
3. Hines Ward vs. Minnesota
4. Andre Johnson vs. San Francisco
5. Steve Smith vs. Arizona
6. Greg Jennings @ Cleveland
7. Roddy White @ Dallas
8. DeSean Jackson @ Washington
9. Steve Breaston @ N.Y. Giants
10. Reggie Wayne @ St. Louis
11. Dwayne Bowe vs. San Diego
Going back to Twitter for a moment ... here's an interesting Tweet from a regular follower (@juz44):
What Would Jay Do?: Am I crazy not make this trade -- Jonathan Stewart, Braylon Edwards, Vernon Davis, Derek Anderson, Eagles D/ST for a 1st- and 2nd-round pick in my 2010 keeper league draft?
Answer: Well, "Jay" has never really seen an offer like this before. Owner B is so desperate to win a title this year ... he's surrendering two high picks in next year's draft for five players that have zero chance of being held over (or "kept") on the '10 squad??? Wow, this seems like a no-brainer on your part ... do the deed! Now, to be fair, since most keeper leagues get to keep two players before every August draft, your 1st/2nd-round picks are more like 3rd/4th-rounders. However, that's still a good deal, considering Edwards, Davis, Anderson and Philly's D can be easily replaced on your current roster. The only real loss here is J-Stew, who may or may not be ready for an absolute breakout season (especially now that DeAngelo Williams is starting to run wild again). Very interesting!
1. DeAngelo Williams vs. Buffalo
2. Steven Jackson vs. Indianapolis
3. Ryan Grant @ Cleveland
4. LaDainian Tomlinson @ Kansas City
5. Larry Johnson vs. San Diego
6. Steve Slaton vs. San Francisco
7. Joseph Addai @ St. Louis
8. Leon Washington @ Oakland
9. Michael Turner @ Dallas
10. Brian Westbrook @ Washington
11. Brandon Jacobs vs. Arizona
12. Cedric Benson vs. Chicago
13. Pierre Thomas @ Miami
One good turn deserves another. Here are the 19 tailbacks with 9 or more Targets since Week 4:
1. Ray Rice, Ravens -- 26
2. Joseph Addai, Colts -- 17
3. Marshawn Lynch, Bills -- 16
4. Steven Jackson, Rams -- 15
5. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- 15
6. Leon Washington, Jets -- 15
7. Steve Slaton, Texans -- 14
8. Brian Westbrook, Eagles -- 13
9. Glen Coffee, 49ers -- 12
10. Larry Johnson, Chiefs -- 11
11. Brian Leonard, Bengals -- 10
12. Kevin Smith, Lions -- 10
13. Correll Buckhalter, Broncos -- 9
14. Jerome Harrison, Browns -- 9
15. Tim Hightower, Cardinals -- 9
16. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos -- 9
17. Sammy Morris, Patriots -- 9
18. Adrian Peterson, Vikings -- 9
19. Chester Taylor, Vikings -- 9
1. WR Isaac Bruce (@ Houston)
2. RB Tashard Choice (vs. Atlanta)
3. WR Chris Henry (vs. Chicago)
4. TE Sean Ryan (vs. San Diego)
5. WR Greg Camarillo (vs. New Orleans)
Last but not least ... here are the 27 tight ends with at least 10 targets since Week 4. If your preferred guy isn't on the list, perhaps it's time to choose someone who actually sees 4-5 balls per game:
1. Owen Daniels, Texans -- 24 Targets
2. Heath Miller, Steelers -- 22
3. Antonio Gates, Chargers-- 21
4. Zach Miller, Raiders -- 21
5. Dallas Clark, Colts -- 19
6. Chris Cooley, Redskins -- 19
7. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons -- 19
8. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions -- 19
9. Kellen Winslow, Jr., Buccaneers -- 19
10. Todd Heap, Ravens -- 18
11. Greg Olsen, Bears -- 17
12. Daniel Coats, Bengals -- 16
13. Vernon Davis, 49ers -- 16
14. Dustin Keller, Jets -- 16
15. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars -- 16
16. John Carlson, Seahawks -- 15
17. Sean Ryan, Chiefs -- 14
18. Tony Scheffler, Broncos -- 14
19. Daniel Fells, Rams -- 13
20. Randy McMichael, Rams -- 13
21. Brent Celek, Eagles -- 12
22. Jermichael Finley, Packers -- 12
23. Bo Scaife, Titans -- 12
24. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings -- 11
25. Anthony Fasano, Dolphins -- 10
26. Jeremy Shockey, Saints -- 10
27. Jason Witten, Cowboys -- 10
... About one travesty from the entertainment world: Somehow, some way ... someone green-lighted a sequel to the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie franchise (coming out on Christmas Day), which only proves that Hollywood writers/directors/producers have officially run out of originial movie concepts. Don't get me wrong, recent history is littered with bad sequels (see list below) -- many of which should have never seen the light of day. But the first Alvin movie was so unspeakably awful ... that I am shocked someone had the cojones to DEMAND more Chipmunks ... instead of some amazing biopic about the life and times of Gary Gnu. Nevertheless, here is a list of the worst sequels that I have seen -- which is a major caveat and one that eliminates any Star Wars flick of the last 10 years -- since 1980:
1. Caddyshack II (I'd like to meet/punch the genius who tapped Jackie Mason for a leading role)
2. Smokey and the Bandit 3 (was Burt Reynolds court-ordered to appear in the last scene?)
3. Jaws IV (there is no more damning scene than Michael Caine's wet shirt/dry shirt fiasco)
4. Superman IV (there was nowhere to go but down after Gen. Zod in part 2)
5. Transformers 2 (I just saw this predictable flick the other night ... what's French for "garbage"?)
6. Rocky V (I've seen Rocky IV at least 300 times in my lifetime; but part 5 only once ... yikes!)
7. Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol (take away Bobcat's love-courting scenes ... and it's brutal)
8. Batman and Robin (there's a reason why Schwarzenegger didn't have many narratives.)
9. Legally Blonde 2 (even more vapid than the original!!!)
10. Major League III (I'll be honest here: Part 2 was pretty damn funny, at times ... but even I had my limits when Scott Bakula and the Metrodome played starring roles in part 3)