Fantasy Clicks: The Honeymoon's Over
DeAngelo Williams: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
It's fair to wonder if Steven Jackson (108.6 total yards per game) will score a touchdown this season. Complemented by, ahem, juggernauts like QB Kyle Boller, WRs Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Danny Amendola, Nate Jones and TEs Randy McMichael and Daniel Fells, the Rams offense (7 points per game) could approach historically awful levels by year's end -- a notion that has already devastated S-Jax's fantasy value.
Jackson's not alone on the Running Back Misery Index (RBMI): Could Texans RB Steve Slaton possibly go an entire season without a red-zone touchdown? Is LaDainian Tomlinson (22 touches, 70 total yards, 1 TD) the spitting image of Shaun Alexander falling off a cliff, circa 2006? Is DeAngelo Williams no longer a reliable threat for 1,500 total yards and 15 touchdowns? And when, if ever, will Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson recapture their glory days in fantasyland?
Some of these questions may seem capricious and arbitrary (thanks, Kramer) ... but after five weeks of fun/agony, owners can confidently take a thumbs-up/thumbs-down stance with the game's biggest names -- even Brian Westbrook, who's on the verge of a 50-50 time-share with rookie LeSean McCoy.
Here are some creative ways to sell-high on the above studs (in name only):
**1-for-2: Jackson for Pierre Thomas/Jeremy Maclin
Verdict: Jackson's a lead-pipe cinch for 110 total yards just about every week, but with zero TDs to boast, he's nothing more than a classic flex option on good fantasy teams and RB2 on medicore ones. The one trump card: The Rams could deal him to a contender.
**1-for-1: LT for Dwayne Bowe
Verdict: If you're really, really down on LT right now -- even with his AFC West schedule -- Bowe would serve as an immediate golden parachute.
**1-for-3: Portis for Beanie Wells/Michael Crabtree/Jermichael Finley
Verdict: All three players in the deal are full of promise AND unanswered questions about their fantasy viability for 2009. Nevertheless, you're bound to hit paydirt on at least one future star.
**2-for-3: LJ/Kellen Winslow for Ahmad Bradshaw/Derrick Mason/Owen Daniels
Verdict: Just in case Brandon Jacobs is hiding a significant injury (or just hitting the proverbial wall) ... this could be your last chance to swindle Bradshaw in fantasyland.
**3-for-4: Williams/Jonathan Stewart/Chad Ochocinco for Joe Flacco/Donald Brown/Wes Welker/Vincent Jackson
Verdict: The Flacco/Brown/Welker/V-Jax haul is a good one in standard-scoring leagues. But it's an absolute gold rush in PPRs ... Wagons West!
1. Drew Brees vs. N.Y. Giants
2. Aaron Rodgers vs. Detroit
3. Matt Hasselbeck vs. Arizona
4. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Cleveland
5. Philip Rivers vs. Denver
6. Joe Flacco @ Minnesota
7. Kurt Warner @ Seattle
8. Donovan McNabb @ Oakland
In general terms, here's a list of the 20 best available free agents for 12-team, standard-scoring leagues:
1. QB Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
2. WR Austin Collie, Colts
3. WR Miles Austin, Cowboys (but don't expect any more 10-250-2 efforts)
4. K Nate Kaeding, Chargers (one man's bye-week trash is another's Week 6 treasure)
5. RB Michael Bush, Raiders
6. RB Sammy Morris, Patriots (looked very strong against the Broncos)
7. QB Matt Cassel, Chiefs
8. WR Steve Breaston, Cardinals
9. WR Jeremy Maclin, Eagles (should be higher here ... but he's still a rookie WR)
10. WR Kenny Britt, Titans
11. WR Dennis Northcutt, Lions
12. D/ST Green Bay Packers
13. D/ST San Diego Chargers
14. TE Jermichael Finley, Packers
15. QB Josh Johnson, Buccaneers (whowouldathunkit ... a Tampa Bay QB worth owning!)
16. RB Derrick Ward, Buccaneers
17. RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
18. QB Jason Campbell, Redskins
19. WR Hakeem Nicks, Giants
20. WR Julian Edelman, Patriots (the ultimate Wes Welker PPR handcuff)
1. Ryan Grant vs. Detroit
2. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. St. Louis
3. Adrian Peterson vs. Baltimore
4. Rashard Mendenhall vs. Cleveland
5. Michael Turner vs. Chicago
6. Brian Westbrook @ Oakland
7. DeAngelo Williams @ Tampa Bay
8. Chris Johnson @ New England
9. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Denver
After five-plus weeks of essentially standing pat, I finally made an eye-opening deal in one of my 10 fantasy leagues; but alas, it was bittersweet on two fronts: For starters, I had to surrender my best receiver in Reggie Wayne (499 receiving yards, 4 TDs through five games) ... AND I didn't get to think of the Points Per Reception-league heist myself. Nevertheless, I am proud to welcome Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Nate Burleson into the PPR mix, in exchange for Wayne, Leon Washington and Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee. (Side note: This may very well be the first blockbuster deal I've ever concocted that involved a kicker.)
On the surface, the 3-for-3 trade looks like a major blowout in my favor; but Owner B, Will Chadrow, admirably used his immense depth at RB and WR to reconstruct a starting lineup that now includes: QB Kurt Warner, RBs Maurice Jones-Drew/Clinton Portis/Rashard Mendenhall, WRs Larry Fitzgerald/Wayne and TE Brent Celek (ranked No. 5 among tight ends). And he couldn't afford to wait until Week 10 to pull the trigger -- since only four teams (out of 10) make the playoffs.
Speaking of blockbuster trades, in my "experts" Facebook league (featuring Matthew Berry, Nate Ravitz, John Hansen, Jeff Erickson, Brandon Funston, William Del Pilar, Christopher Liss, among others), I offered Fanball kingpin Ryan Houston the following 5-for-2 megaswap: Getting Drew Brees and Mo Jones-Drew ... while giving up Anquan Boldin, Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Eli Manning and Hines Ward. Now, I have no idea if Houston will go all-in on this landmark offer (no word as of Wednesday) ... but it's enough to remind me why August fantasy drafts are just a miniscule part of the fantasy experience. Just like Robert Duvall famously quipped in Apocalypse Now: I love the smell of ridiculously bold trade offers in the morning.
Strange but true: Heading into Game 6, the Redskins have yet to face a club with at least one victory to their credit -- at the time of playing 'em. Excluding the 5-0 Giants (who had a 0-0 record before facing Washington in Week 1 -- HA!), the Redskins have had the way-too-good fortune of playing the sad-sack Rams, Lions, Buccaneers, Panthers and now Chiefs (this Sunday) to date. That's a pure miracle of scheduling, folks -- only surpassed by the notion of Washington's uninspiring 2-3 mark after five games.
... Here's how we'd rank the running backs leading up to the August drafts:
1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2. Chris Johnson, Titans
3. Michael Turner, Falcons
4. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
5. Frank Gore, 49ers
6. Ray Rice, Ravens
7. Cedric Benson, Bengals
8. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins
9. Joseph Addai, Colts
10. Kevin Smith, Lions
11. Steven Jackson, Rams
12. Matt Forte, Bears
13. Marion Barber, Cowboys
14. Willis McGahee, Ravens
15. Brandon Jacobs, Giants
16. Thomas Jones, Jets
17. Pierre Thomas, Saints
18. Brian Westbrook, Eagles
19. Ryan Grant, Packers
20. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
21. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
22. Marshawn Lynch, Bills
23. Clinton Portis, Redskins
24. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
25. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
26. Steve Slaton, Texans
27. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
28. Julius Jones, Seahawks
29. Darren McFadden, Raiders
30. Darren Sproles, Chargers
It's foolish to guarantee 100 yards and/or one touchdown with tight ends -- since their stats, stars included, tend to fluctuate wildly from week to week. Instead, here's our list for the top 10 most productive tight ends for Week 6:
1. Tony Gonzalez vs. Chicago
2. Antonio Gates vs. Denver
3. Heath Miller vs. Cleveland
4. Jeremy Shockey vs. N.Y. Giants (a "revenge" game for The Blond & Bombed Bomber)
5. Kellen Winslow vs. Carolina
6. John Carlson vs. Arizona
7. Jermichael Finley vs. Detroit
8. Sean Ryan @ Washington
9. Chris Cooley vs. Kansas City
10. Todd Heap @ Minnesota
Drew Brees: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
@aleksb6 asks: Here's a question I didn't think I'd be asking this year: Drew Brees (vs. NYG) or Matt Hasselbeck (vs. ARI)?
Answer: Oh sure, Brees has failed to throw one touchdown or eclipse the 200-yard passing mark in his last two games (both New Orleans wins) ... but do you seriously want to bench him in one of the season's most anticipated games? Believe me, I'm not discounting the Giants and their top-ranked pass defense -- they're awesome! However, there's a reason why you invested a Round 2 pick on Brees. There's a reason why you've built your entire roster around him. Give DB the starting nod ... and don't look back!
@BrianShearer says: I was offered Ray Rice/Steve Breaston for Marion Barber. My RBs: Thomas Jones, Tim Hightower, Joseph Addai, Barber. WRs: Reggie Wayne, Devin Hester, Mike Sims-Walker, Santana Moss.
Answer: I would run -- not walk -- to accept Rice and Breaston for M-Barbe, regardless of format. Do the deed! As I mentioned above, Rice is the better running back right now, and garnering Breaston as a throw-in is pure genius.
@B4him13 wonders: Who gets the better end of this trade -- Joseph Addai/Sidney Rice for DeAngelo Williams/Michael Crabtree?
Answer: Based on Williams' MONSTER second half in '08, I have to give the slight edge to D-Will/Crabtree. But unless Crabtree finds some Braylon Edwards-like magic early on with the 49ers, the above deal may be a wash in the end.
@NickDbIU asks: HELP! I'm 1-4! Should I accept a trade for DeAngelo Williams and get Marion Barber/Ryan Grant? Or, try and get Ray Rice instead?
Answer: First, I'd remind you to NOT panic over the 1-4 start (unless only four teams make the playoffs in your league); after that, I'd advise you to say 'YES' to Barber/Rice or Grant for D-Williams. Simply put, you can never have enough high-end running backs.
@groleau09 happily declares: I ended up trading LaDainian Tomlinson straight up for Eli Manning. I feel better about myself for doing it!
Answer: While I admire your gusto ... I could never see myself trading LT for Eli unless LaDainian had a bone sticking through his leg.
Groleau's reponse: well, he has a fork sticking through his back ... does that count? (Translation: He's done!)
My response: Very funny line ... but no, still not enough reason to dump him -- YET -- for a guy (Eli) who'll end up with 22-24 TD passes. At some point soon, we'll know if LT's a bust (perhaps as early as Week 6 against Denver).
1. Josh Scobee vs. St. Louis
2. Nate Kaeding vs. Denver
3. Stephen Gostkowski vs. Tennessee
4. Olindo Mare vs. Arizona
5. Mason Crosby vs. Detroit
6. John Kasay @ Tampa Bay
7. Ryan Longwell vs. Baltimore
Here are four viable reasons NOT to dump Kansas City's Matt Cassel (797 passing yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs this season):
1. Week 13 home clash with Denver
2. Week 14 home clash with Buffalo
3. Week 15 home clash with Cleveland
4. Week 16 road clash with Cincinnati
Verdict: In case you've missed the subtleties here, Cassel has the potential for 300 yards and/or 3 TDs against four suspect defenses from Weeks 13-16 -- the entire period of fantasyland playoff football. So, unless you own Drew Brees (@WAS, @ATL, DAL, TB), Cassel is the ONLY automatic quality start among NFL quarterbacks from Dec. 3-28. Not even Tom Brady (cold-weather games in Weeks 14 & 15) or Peyton Manning (Week 16 tilt at cold, windy, blustery Giants Stadium) can deliver on that guarantee.
Mainstream fantasy sites, like SI.com, are obviously a hit with fantasygoers. But there's always room for alternative media in the marketplace, especially when the authors are hilariously shouting from the rooftops about why Derek Anderson hasn't turned over a new leaf, or why the St. Louis Rams may not win a game ... until 2012.
The first must-see blog is PigskinAddiction.com; and the site's signature page involves Snake's Takes (running every Tuesday) -- comprising 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.
Next up ... Fantasy Football Toolbox. If you're looking for updated depth charts, weekly cheat sheets, injury reports and even -- sacre bleu! -- an updated listing of the NFL's Top 10 punters (insert joke here) ... then welcome home!
There's even a weekly podcast during the season -- although the Clemons/Ritter podcast offers more hard-hitting fantasy analysis and abject mocking of one another's lineup decisions.
1. Vincent Jackson vs. Denver
2. Larry Fitzgerald @ Seattle
3. DeSean Jackson @ Oakland
4. Greg Jennings vs. Detroit
5. Marques Colston vs. N.Y. Giants
6. Santonio Holmes vs. Cleveland
7. Steve Smith @ Tampa Bay
8. Derrick Mason @ Minnesota
9. Anquan Boldin @ Seattle
10. Torry Holt vs. St. Louis (my loathing of T-Holt -- at this stage in his career -- has been well-documented ... but you have to love his chances against the Rams, his old team)
Here's another reason why you should never waste a mid-round draft pick on defenses, kickers (or maybe even tight ends) during the preseason: In leagues with only 5-6 slots for benchwarmers, most fantasy owners purposely keep one TE, one K and one D/ST at a time -- allowing for the maximum amount of quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. In other words, it's not uncommon to see some of fantasyland's most consistent performers dangling on waivers during their byes.
The message: If you have the Week 6 roster space to spare, here are some gems to pluck off waivers ASAP ... instead of entering a bidding war with your fellow owners come Week 7:
PK Nick Folk, Cowboys
WR Austin Collie, Colts
WR Pierre Garcon, Colts
WR Anthony Gonzalez, Colts (a flyer pick here, gambling on a Week 8/9 return)
TE Anthony Fasano, Dolphins
WR Ted Ginn, Dolphins
WR Greg Camarillo, Dolphins (could be a great resource in PPR leagues)
WR Josh Morgan, 49ers
WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers
TE Vernon Davis, 49ers
D/ST Dallas Cowboys
D/ST San Francisco 49ers
For what it's worth, here's my perfect lineup for Week 6:
QB Aaron Rodgers -- one of my "locks" for 275 yards and/or 3 TDs vs. Detroit
RB Ryan Grant -- have you seen the Lions' rushing defense of late?
RB Rashard Mendenhall -- don't be shocked to see 130 total yards, 2 TDs
WR Vincent Jackson -- if any WR has a shot at two touchdowns ... it's V-Jax!
WR Anquan Boldin -- if any WR has a shot at 10 catches, 200 yards ... it's Boldin!
RB/WR Greg Jennings -- what's good for Rodgers ... is great for Jennings
TE Tony Gonzalez -- he's due for another mini-breakout
PK Nate Kaeding -- my favorite kicker, week-in and week-out
D/ST Steelers -- if you need reassurance on this pick ... look no further than Derek Anderson's 2-for-17 outing for Cleveland in Week 5.
I loved every second of my seven-day honeymoon in Costa Rica (which explains my two-week absence from Fantasy Revelations -- in case you were paying attention). No other country on earth boasts a better combination of majestic mountains, lush rainforests, flawless beaches, exotic wildlife and English-speaking ambassadors (like my new friend Leonardo Rodriguez, the greatest private driver/tour guide/restaurant connoisseur in Central America -- you won't regret booking his services). However, I am absolutely thrilled to be back in the United States ... for two main reasons:
1. Good luck finding pro/college football on the tube: Early Saturday afternoon, my only NCAA option was Oklahoma State-Texas A&M -- in Spanish. The same rang true on Sunday, when I could only enjoy Broncos-Patriots through the sound of two Spanish-speaking announcers (not in Denver) dubbing their way through the broadcast. The reason for the limited access: Every other sports channel was airing qualifying matches for World Cup Soccer (curiously, I couldn't find USA-Honduras anywhere).
2. It's painful being out of the loop: Seriously, I didn't know Braylon Edwards had been traded from Cleveland to the New York Jets -- until Sunday morning (10 a.m. local time in Costa Rica, 60 minutes before kickoff) ... right before finalizing my Week 5 lineups.
On the flip side ... I will sorely miss watching the greatest weatherman in the history of TV news (and yes, that is Bob the Parrot on his shoulder).