Drew Brees: AP
For Tuesday's fantasy News and Views (a separate entity from Fantasy Clicks -- yes, we're expanding again!), I listed a few reasons as to why Baltimore rookie QB Joe Flacco was doomed for failure as the Ravens' Week 1 starter. And it had me thinking ... how did some of today's established stars fare in their first NFL start? (To be fair, Flacco is starting in his first-ever pro game -- a rare occurrence.) Here are some results:
Peyton Manning (1998, Colts): 21-of-37 for 302 yards; 1 TD, 3 INT (Loss)
Tom Brady (2001, Patriots): 13-of-23 for 168 yards; 0 TD, 0 INT (Win)
Donovan McNabb ('99, Eagles): 8-of-21 for 60 yards; 0 TD, 0 INT (Win)
Drew Brees ('02, Chargers): 15-of-19 for 160 yards; 2 TDs, 0 INT (Win)
Matt Hasselbeck ('02, Seahawks): 20-of-34 for 178 yards; 0 TD, 2 INT (Win)
Ben Roethlisberger ('04, Steelers): 12-of-22 for 163 yards; 1 TD, 1 INT (Win)
Carson Palmer ('03, Bengals): 18-of-27 for 248 yards; 2 TDs, 1 INT (Loss)
1. Drew Brees vs. Tampa Bay
2. Tony Romo vs. Cleveland
3. Derek Anderson vs. Dallas
4. Philip Rivers vs. Carolina
So, you may have noticed that neither Tom Brady, Peyton Manning nor Matt Hasselbeck were listed among the QB locks for 275 yards and/or three touchdowns. This is not an indictment on their seasonal value -- since I have the trio respectively pegged at 1, 2 and 8 in '08; rather, it's an educated guess the three stars will need a full game or two to find their passing rhythm. After all, only Hasselbeck took any live preseason snaps ... while attempting just eight passes.
1. Marshawn Lynch vs. Seattle
2. Brian Westbrook vs. St. Louis
3. Frank Gore vs. Arizona
4. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Carolina
5. Marion Barber vs. Cleveland
6. Brandon Jacobs vs. Washington
7. Joseph Addai vs. Chicago
8. Adrian Peterson vs. Green Bay
9. Reggie Bush vs. Tampa Bay
10. Larry Johnson vs. New England
11. Steven Jackson vs. Philly
12. Laurence Maroney vs. Kansas City
I could spend hours and hours breaking down Rudi Johnson's wild first day as a Lion, which included his unpacked bags reportedly being stolen and taken off the team's Allen Park campus by -- and I'm not making this up -- Tatum Bell, the same running back whom Detroit released after inking Rudi to a one-year deal. Instead, I will provide two schools of thought regarding the actual acquisition:
The pessimist would lament Rudi's age (he'll be 29 on Oct. 1), his wear-and-tear through the years (he had 340-plus carries annually from 2004-06) and his non-conforming running style (he's a patient power back, where the Lions' zone-blocking schemes favor 'one-cut-and-go' rushers). On the other hand, Johnson has fewer total carries (1,441) than Curtis Martin, Shaun Alexander or Jamal Lewis had at similar career stages; he has not incurred had a serious knee, leg or foot injury as a pro; and he'll be splitting the between-the-20s rushing duties with Detroit rookie Kevin Smith in '08 -- but could see roughly 80 percent of the short-yardage, red-zone carries. All in all, Johnson could total 900 yards and 7 TDs this season, while serving as a viable handcuff to Smith.
Thomas Jones: Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
BShearer from Langhorne, Pa. wants to know the following: I have Hasselbeck/Schaub for my QBs. Now that Warner is QB for Arizona, should I drop one for him?
I can see where fantasy owners would fall under the spell of Warner-to-Fitzgerald or Warner-to-Boldin all season ... but there is no justification (in my mind) for dropping a Tier 2 stud (Hasselbeck) or Tier 3 gem (Schaub) for Warner. If you had Vince Young or Aaron Rodgers as your No. 2 QB, then I could understand. But Warner is the one player whose 2007 stats (27 TDs, 3,417 yards passing) do not portend similar greatness in '08.
HFD in Richmond, Va. submitted a PPR question: I am in a PPR league and was going to start Thomas Jones as my flex starter in Week 1. I also have Felix Jones, who I thought might be better for Week 1, after Dallas lost yet another WR. Any advice?
Answer: Thomas Jones may not be the most dynamic force in PPR leagues, but he's certainly a stronger Week 1 play than Felix Jones. Sure, Felix has the potential for four great PPR games as a rookie ... but can you confidently predict when that greatness kicks in? In two games against Miami last year, Jones tallied 111 and 100 total yards (including one TD). In my mind, he's a solid RB3 this week.
1. Terrell Owens vs. Cleveland
2. Randy Moss vs. Kansas City
3. Calvin Johnson vs. Atlanta
4. Reggie Wayne vs. Chicago
5. Jerricho Cotchery vs. Miami
6. Andre Johnson vs. Pittsburgh
7. Santonio Holmes vs. Houston
8. Anquan Boldin vs. San Francisco
9. David Patten vs. Tampa Bay
10. Vincent Jackson vs. Carolina
Before we finish off with the mail, I wanted to specifically address Jared from Littleton ... who wonders whether he should start Maurice Jones-Drew or LenDale White in a PPR league this week. First of all, Jared, thanks for the inquiry; secondly, thanks for lobbing me the juiciest softball of the year, even if Mo's ankle is only 99.99 percent: In four games against the Jags, White has 125 total yards (rushing and receiving), whereas Mo has eight catches and 419 total yards with two touchdowns (approximately 60 fantasy points) in the same span. The verdict: Ride MJD (and Steven Jackson, your other RB) to Week 1 glory and don't look back!
1. Jeremy Shockey vs. Tampa Bay
2. Ben Utecht vs. Baltimore
3. Heath Miller vs. Houston
4. Kellen Winslow vs. Dallas
5. Vernon Davis vs. Arizona
6. Zach Miller vs. Denver
The Colts have won at least 12 regular season games in five consecutive years -- an NFL record. But how many uninterrupted weeks has Indianapolis owned at least a share of the AFC South lead? Scroll down for the answer.
Switching gears to baseball ... there are still plenty of underrated starters on the mixed-league waiver wires - a stunning occurrence given some of the shaky staffs in fantasyland. Yes, having name-brand pitchers -- like Javier Vazquez or Justin Verlander -- looks great after the April drafts. But September is not a time to be carrying deadbeat pitchers -- especially when you're in a pretend pennant race. To wit: SI.com presents a list of the 10 most unheralded pitchers with the best combination of ERA and WHIP in the last 30 days. We're talking about guys with at least 19 innings pitched since Aug. 3.
1. Jorge de la Rosa, Rockies, (1.78 ERA, 1.16 WHIP)
2. Jesse Litsch, Blue Jays (1.37 ERA, 1.12 WHIP)
3. Kevin Millwood, Rangers (2.76 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)
4. Brian Stokes, Mets (2.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
5. Jonathan Sanchez, Giants (3.79 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
6. Zach Miner, Tigers (2.73 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)
7. Glendon Rusch, Rockies (3.75 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)
8. Jason Marquis, Cubs (3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
9. Jeff Francis, Rockies (3.45 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)
10. Edwin Jackson, Rays (2.27 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
The Colts have owned at least a share of the AFC South lead for 60 consecutive weeks.
I may be insightful, passionate and devilishly clever (in my mind) about fantasy sports, but I am not all-knowing, by any means. That's why I would like to thank Steve from Tallahassee for pointing out my egregious oversight regarding Randy Johnson.
On Monday, I lauded CC Sabathia and Rick Sutcliffe for "easily" having the best-ever years for pitchers that were traded during a season. Lost in my praise for Sabathia (in '08) and Sutcliffe ('84), I somehow forgot about The Unit's amazing two-month go-around with Houston back in '98, vaulting the Astros (102-60) to the NL Central title. But which pitcher boasts the best post-trade numbers (keeping in mind that Sabathia has 5-6 more starts this year)?Sutcliffe: ('84, Cubs): 16-1, 2.39 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 115/39 K-to-BB ratio, 7 CG, 3 shutouts
Sabathia:('08, Brewers): 9-0, 1.59 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 85/18 K-to-BB ratio, 6 CG, 3 shutouts
Johnson: ('98, Astros): 10-1, 1.28 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 116/26 K-to-BB ratio, 4 CG, 4 shutouts
In search of an unheralded Wednesday spot starter for your fantasy lineup, one who may bring glory in Ks, ERA and WHIP -- if for just one night? Look no further than the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda. Before I tell you why I'm choosing Kuroda, I'll detail why I almost didn't take him. On June 12, a red-hot Kuroda -- fresh off an 11-strikeout, zero-walk gem -- sauntered into pitcher-friendly PETCO Park (against the usually light-hitting Padres), only to get lambasted for two homers, four walks and six runs in just 2 1/3 innings of work. (deep sigh) But I'm a forgiving person, especially when the pitcher in question sports a 2.53 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in the last 30 days -- not to mention a lethal 4/1 K-to-BB ratio during that span. What's more, Kuroda should be primed to exact some revenge against the Padres for his June meltdown ... this time in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium.
Feel free to consult two of my favorite underground fantasy football sites -- NFLFreaks.com and PigskinAddiction.com -- when deliberating whom to start and sit this looooong NFL weekend (Thursday, Sunday and a Monday doubleheader). With Pigskin Addiction, in particular, you'll love Snake's takes, a collection of unfiltered thoughts so random, so emotional, so bitter, so twisted ... you'll wonder how the man even survives an NFL Sunday, let alone write about it come Monday.
Ever dreamt of playing fantasy football against a Hall of Fame safety, Sports Illustrated football writer, Major League Baseball general manager, world-renowned swimsuit model, professional poker player or best-selling author -- to name a few? SI.com, in conjunction with Facebook, will welcome someone into its 2008 Celebrity Fantasy League where one lucky fan matches weekly wits, from Draft Day to the Fantasy Bowl, with Ronnie Lott, Peter King, Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, supermodel Brooklyn Decker, poker great Phil Gordon and Michael Lewis, author of the sabremetrician-friendly book, Moneyball. Time's running out, though, so click here and register today! As a consolation prize for the contest non-winners, you can create new leagues and develop newer rivals on the new SI/Facebook fantasy game.
At long last, SI.com has a fantasy football game, complete with all of the drafts, waiver wires, stats and analysis you need. Take the grand tour here and sign up a league. Heck, sign up two leagues if you want. We'll be waiting.