Matt Cassel: Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Is it me, or was that "Turn Back The Clock Night" in New England? Five touchdowns, 404 total yards, and a 41-7 laugher? That's a 2007-style win for the Pats. Only this time it was Matt Cassel under center and Sammy Morris in the backfield. But whatever the Patriots tried, it worked, and the Broncos were utterly embarrassed in this one.
Cassel went 18-for-24 for 185 and a career-high three TDs. After a rough start to the season, might he be turning the corner? I need to see a couple more weeks before I'm convinced, but last night he was solid. Morris rumbled for 138 yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries, although much of it can be credited to the Broncos' terrible run defense. I mean, someone named BenJarvus Green-Ellis came in later and ripped off 65 yards and a score. This was not a good night for the Broncos.
The Denver disaster began almost immediately. Jay Cutler smacked Richard Seymour's helmet following through on a throw during the game's first play; for several minutes he seemed unsure whether to stay in or head to the sidelines. His index finger visibly swelled, and his throws visibly fluttered. Later in that same drive, tailback Michael Pittman took a hard tackle (though this hit is more impressive, not to mention bizarre) and left the game. Andre Hall stepped in and promptly fumbled his first carry away.
On their second possession, Hall who apparently soaked his gloves in Crisco before the game, fumbled again to set up another Pats field goal. It wasn't long before the game was out of hand.
For the night, the Broncos had five turnovers -- two picks for Cutler, one fumble from Patrick Ramsey, and the two fumbles from Crisco Hall -- committed eight penalties and had several players leave the game with injuries, including All-Pro corner Champ Bailey.
They didn't show up on Monday night, but fantasy players shouldn't lose faith in the Broncos. It's still a dynamic offense, even without Brandon Stokley and tight end Tony Scheffler. They have no choice. Their defense is terrible.
And before we move on, wait, was that Randy Moss I saw hauling in two TDs last night? Yep, the mercurial receiver looked pretty strong, finishing with five catches for 69 yards and the two TDs. TV man Ron Jaworski correctly pointed out that Moss' production immediately spiked after Champ Bailey left the game. It won't always be this easy for Randy, especially with the inconsistent Cassel still growing into his role of starting quarterback, but last night we saw the vintage Moss. Hey, that's what you get when you turn back the clock.
These guys could be available in your league and are worth adding to your fantasy roster.Ahman Green, RB, Texans. Hey, I'm as surprised as you are. I throught Steve Slaton would take the job and (wait for it) run with it after Green missed time earlier this year. Instead, Green has returned and continues to take carries away from Slaton. The Lions rush defense will make anyone look good. (In fact, a potentially great team promotion would be for Lions' opponents to randomly select a fan to strap on pads and carry the ball for one quarter against the Lions D. I truly believe I could gain 30 yards -- and I've got a knee that hurts when I walk to the refrigerator.) Green was no exception, as he picked up 14 carries, 62 yards and a TD. It was a near-split with Slaton, who finished with18 carries, 80 yards and a score. If Green has been hiding out on your waiver wire, or you can get him for pocket change in a trade, go for it.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals. Yet another name I can't believe is on this list, but the numbers don't lie: 62 total yards on 15 touches, and he got the start over Chris Perry.
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints. Welcome back to the pick-up list, Pierre. Reggie Bush is going to miss a few weeks after tearing the meniscus in his knee. Most of his carries will go to Deuce McAllister, but Thomas will get a share.
Aaron Stecker, RB, Saints. After Bush, do you know who the Saints' next best pass-catching running back is? Hint: It's not Pierre Thomas.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs. It looks like Larry Johnson could face league suspension after being his with assault charges this week, and the latest news only makes the situation seem worse. Kolby Smith is also a decent pickup, but Charles is the more explosive player, and the guy I prefer.
Antwaan Randle El, WR, Redskins. Hey, know who stinks right now? The Detroit Lions. They're also the 'Skins' Week 8 opponent. For a one-week spot start, I'd grab Randle El, Art Monk, Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark if they're available.
Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks. He might've been dropped after his Week 1 injury and Julius Jones' strong performances. But Morris returned to share carries against the Buccaneers and is a decent add. . . but that's still a bad offense in Seattle, so keep expectations low.
Antonio Bryant, WR, Bucs. He's inconsistent, but if you're willing to ride the wave, you can do a lot worse. For more on why now is the time to add Bryant, see the section below titled "Schedule Watch."
Donnie Avery, WR, Rams. Five catches for 65 yards and a score against the Cowboys, and he had another touchdown called back because of a penalty. He's clearly emerged as the Rams No. 2 receiver, but lately he's even outperforming Torry Holt. He's a sneaky play this week against the Patriots.
Javon Walker, WR, Raiders. Somebody's gotta catch the ball in Oakland, and Walker finally delivered his first good game of the year on Sunday. (five catches, 75 yards and a score) Don't go crazy here, but he's a decent option against bad defenses going forward.
Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian: Ethan Miller /Getty Images
So, Tom Brady is dating Gisele, and Brady's out for the year with a knee injury. Tony Romo is dating Jessica Simpson, and he recently cracked his pinkie. Reggie Bush is dating Kim Kardashian, and last week he tore his meniscus. Giants cornerback Aaron Ross, is engaged to sprinter Sanya Richards, and he injured his shoulder on Sunday. Anybody else see what's happening here? This might be a good time to scour your roster to make sure none of your players are dating anyone even remotely famous. There's no need to thank me. (Jeff Garcia owners, enjoy this, but prepare for the worst.)
For fantasy purposes, it's long past time to keep an eye on those terrible Lions. And the Chiefs just gave up 332 rushing yards to the Titans. You might say these teams are "fantasy friendly." Here are their schedules for the homestretch of the fantasy regular season. Lions:
Week 8: Redskins
Week 9: at Bears
Week 10: Jaguars
Week 11: at Panthers
Week 12: Buccaneers
Week 13: Titans
Week 14: Vikings (Adrian Peterson rushes for 300 yards? 400?)
Week 8: at Jets
Week 9: Buccaneers
Week 10: at Chargers
Week 11: Saints
Week 12: Bills
Week 13: at Raiders
Week 14: at Broncos (!)
Notice the one common opponent for both teams: The Bucs. This might be a good time to make a sneaky offer for the tandem of Earnest Graham and/or Warrick Dunn, since they'll have two opportunities for h-u-g-e days in the coming weeks.
Canada in the house! I have a few great memories from when I turned 19 and occasionally trekked from Ann Arbor to Canada. But, uh, those stories are for another day. Shawn, Campbell's matchup this week is as sweet as it gets; the Lions allow the most fantasy points to opposing QBs in the NFL. (Atlanta ranks 12th). Go ahead and give Campbell the start.
From a fantasy perspective, do you think Randy Moss will turn it around this year? I've only been satisfied with his performance once this year.
-Gene, Raleigh, NC
Thanks for the question, Gene. I guess it depends what you mean by, "turn it around." Return to his 2007 pace of more than one TD per game? No chance. But he's still an explosive player, and the Patriots coaches haven't won three Super Bowls by accident. They know they have to get Moss involved. He caught two touchdowns last night and was targeted on another end zone throw. I think he'll put up serviceable numbers, but he'll be inconsistent -- like his quarterback. Currently Moss has 369 yards and four TDs, and I expect he'll finish right around 1,000 and nine.
I'm in a head to head league and I need more depth at wide receiver. My team consists of Philip Rivers, Kurt Warner at QB, Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, and Ronnie Brown at RB, Bernard Berrian, Laveranues Coles, and Wes Welker at WR, Dallas Clark and Bo Scaife at TE, and the Bears and Eagles defenses. I also have Chad Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Matt Schuab, Jamal Lewis, and the Dolphins defense on the bench. I'm trying to get a productive wide receiver like Fitzgerald, Wayne, Jennings, Roddy White, or Calvin Johnson. Who should I try and trade to get a receiver like this?
-Joel, Larksville, Pa.
I'm guessing by the way you phrased the question that you start two QBs, three RBs, three WRs and two TEs. That's a lot of guys to start, so it's hard to acquire a superstar at each position. I might try shopping Jamal Lewis, who has shown some life the last few weeks. If you packaged J-Lew with a Coles or Welker, you might be able to get White or Johnson if that owner needs some running back help.
I'm in a fantasy league with a couple buds from high school and there are only 7 of us so the teams are pretty star studded. My RBs are Matt Forte (who I picked up after Week 1 from Free Agency), Adrian Peterson, Clinton Portis, and Willie Parker (After someone dropped in after getting hurt)... However my question is should I trade Matt Forte straight up for LT, someone offered me LT for Forte, see any chances of LT becoming LT?
L.T. certainly hasn't looked like L.T. lately, but I'd pull the trigger on this deal, Richard. Forte is currently the fourth-leading scorer in standard fantasy leagues, but he's got the second-most carries in the NFL. I'm worried about the rookie hitting the wall in the second half of the season. With L.T., I think the subpar performance can mostly be attributed to his toe injury. The Chargers have a bye in Week 9, and after that I'm expecting a fresh Tomlinson to return. Don't expect the L.T. of a couple years ago, but I think he'll outshine Forte down the stretch this year.