Fantasy Revelations -- Week 16
Brian Westbrook: AP
Since 99.9 percent of fantasy leagues end in Week 16, I'm going to alter the regular Revelations format. At least that's my official rationalization for shortening things up. Off the record, though, I'm just too depressed to write 4,000 words ... after suffering a gut-wrenching, stomach-churning loss in the Super Bowl of my favorite PPR league. How frustratingly close was my defeat? I would have brought home the championship if ...
1. The Vikings had recovered this fumble off a Matt Ryan mad scramble/flying leap (two players had two hands on the ball!). I would have gained one point for Minnesota's defense; instead, the Atlanta TD (since the ball was in the end zone) docked two points off the Vikings D's total -- a three-point swing.
2. Brian Westbrook hadn't caught a little dink pass -- his final "touch" of the game -- for 6 measly yards during the Eagles' last drive ... which ended at the 1/2-yard line with no time left.
Buffalo 30, Denver 23
What I Liked: Leave it to Broncos QB Jay Cutler to provide stellar fantasy value on a day when he failed to record one TD pass. The Matthew Stafford clone threw for 359 yards and ran for 30 more ... with two rushing touchdowns. O happy joy!
What I Loathed: Lee Evans capped an utterly forgettable second half of the season with just two catches for 19 yards.
What Made Me Laugh: I find it funny that some poor schmo will draft either Ryan Torain, Peyton Hillis, Selvin Young or P.J. Pope on the strength (read: mirage) of a breakout preseason ... only to realize the Broncos running backs are essentially irrelevant, long-term, in fantasyland.
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That Brandon Marshall (10 catches, 129 yards) is the second-best WR option for Points Per Receptions leagues (behind Andre Johnson) ... and that Buffalo backup RB Fred Jackson (113 total yards, 1 TD) would be a top-50 pick in any draft format -- IF ONLY the Bills would deal him in the offseason.
San Diego 41, Tampa Bay 24
What I Liked: In the spirit of the holiday season, I'm willing to cut Chargers QB Philip Rivers some slack for his -3 rushing yards ... but only because he threw for 287 yards and four TDs against the Bucs, which sets up the winner-take-all, ahem, "showdown" of Denver-San Diego in Week 17 -- with the victor claiming the AFC West.
What I Loathed: Truth be told, I have no qualms of what transpired in Tampa. But if I were a Bucs fan, I'd be a little concerned that neither Cadillac Williams or Earnest Graham (currently on IR) has the right stuff to last at least 14 games EVERY season.
What Made Me Laugh: If I were to inject truth serum into coach Jon Gruden's first coffee of the day (the man REPORTS to work at 3:55 a.m.), it would be then -- and only then -- that he'd say no team could ever reach a Super Bowl with Jeff Garcia (277 yards, 2 TDs vs. San Diego) at QB ... at least the almost-40 version. Until that happens, though, Gruden will continue to live in denial regarding Tampa Bay's QB mini-crisis.
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That LaDainian Tomlinson has begun the downslide of a Hall of Fame career ... and that I should no longer move heaven and earth to draft or trade for him. However, and this is a BIG "however" ... I would be honored to take LT (110 total yards vs. Tampa Bay) late in Round 1 (say Pick 8 or 9) next August.
Miami 38, Kansas City 31
What I Liked: As I've been saying all year, Larry Johnson (108 rushing yards, 1 TD vs. Miami) may be an aging, immature, borderline-dysfunctional fantasy back ... but he's MY aging, immature, borderline-dysfunctional fantasy back; and I look forward to stealing him in the draft again in '09 (along with handcuffing him to Jamaal Charles).
What I Loathed: Thank god Ronnie Brown (53 total yards vs. KC) had that 5-TD game against the Pats in Week 3 ... otherwise I'd be thinking of attaching a "fantasy roadkill" Post-It note to his 2008 resume.
What Made Me Laugh: Dontcha just love Tyler Thigpen in fantasyland? He threw three ghastly interceptions, and yet, I could care less! I choose to focus on Thiggy's 377-yard, 3-TD day against the Dolphins.
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That Tony Gonzalez (7 catches, 64 yards, 1 TD) is the better -- and cheaper -- option next summer, compared to Jason Witten and Antonio Gates. While those guys get taken around Rounds 4 or 5 ... I'll grab Gonzo at Round 6, while getting Wes Welker (who's absolute gold in PPR leagues) or Roddy White in the fifth round.
New England 47, Arizona 7
What I Liked: From this point forward, I will accept no more "system quarterback" excuses regarding Patriots QB Matt Cassel. Anyone who throws for 345 yards and three touchdowns in blizzard-like conditions deserves all the praise that Tom Brady would have gotten -- had he abused the Cardinals defense in the same manner.
What I Loathed: I haven't seen an out-of-nowhere freefall like the one Cards RB Tim Hightower (27 total yards) is experiencing ... since Edgerrin James' 2006 offseason between bolting Indy for free agency and signing with Arizona.
What Made Me Laugh: If you turned on ESPN sometime around 11 on Sunday morning and saw all the snow in Foxboro -- not to mention grave reports of swirling high winds or that Anquan Boldin was an "injured" scratch -- I sincerely hope you had the foresight to drop Kurt Warner (30 passing yards in limited duty) in your Super Bowl. If not, shame, shame, shame on you.
What Made Me Laugh, Part II: I have to credit my dad, Larry Clemons, for having the Zinger Of The Day. During the Steelers-Titans broadcast, upon seeing an update on the Patriots-Cardinals mismatch, CBS announcer Jim Nantz said something to the effect of, "You think the Cardinals enjoy coming to play on the East Coast, during a snowstorm?" To which, my dad quickly replied ... as if he were speaking through Nantz, "There's even a rumor the team will leave at halftime." Good stuff.
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That Larry Fitzgerald (3 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD vs. New England) should retain his title of being the smarter draft option over his mercurial teammate Boldin.
DeAngelo Williams: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
What I Liked: I couldn't help but notice that Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams rushed for 108 yards and four touchdowns and Giants RB Derrick Ward rushed for a career-high 215 yards. I wonder if they vaulted anyone to a fantasy title?
What I Loathed: I couldn't help but notice that Giants QB Eli Manning passed for 181 yards and one touchdown and Panthers QB Jake Delhomme threw for 185 yards and zero TDs. I wonder if they deflated anyone's chances for a fantasy title?
What Makes Me Laugh: That I went two long paragraphs without even mentioning Brandon Jacobs' 92 total yards and three TDs ... what a freak! What a game!
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That Steve Smith would be a solid, if not stellar pick in Round 3 next summer, even though he's prone to pedestrian nights just like Sunday (68 total yards, one almost TD).
New Orleans 42, Detroit 7
What I Liked: Hey, how about four different Saints -- Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, Deuce McAllister and WR Robert Meachem -- earning rushing TDs against perhaps the NFL's worst run defense in the last 25 years.
What I Loathed: Speaking of historically bad ... I love how Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith (111 yards, 1 TD) keep rising above the vast fantasy wasteland that is the 0-15 Detroit Lions.
What Made Me Laugh: I'd write about the winless Lions again, since they're only one loss away from the NFL's first 0-16 season in its history. But as a Michigan native ... the laughter has simply turned into tears.
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That Drew Brees (351 passing yards, 2 TDs vs. Detroit) should be drafted ahead of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady next summer -- if the Saints once again have only one cold-weather game in the November/December portion of the 2009 schedule.
Oakland 27, Houston 16
What I Liked: The ultimate compliment I can give to a fantasy back is this: He's productive even on days when he seemingly does nothing. Case in point, Steve Slaton, who totaled 102 yards without ever sniffing the end zone. That's 15-plus points in standard PPR leagues!
What I Loathed: In the immortal words of "Lucy" from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special ... "Of all the Andre Johnsons in the world ... you're the Andre Johnson-iest." Seriously, AJ, only two catches for 19 yards ... against the porous Raiders ... and during Super Bowl Week? I guess Oakland CB Nnamdi Asomugha's agent should place that call into Al Davis and say, "We're ready to sign that $100 million extension now."
What Made Me Cry: Texans WR Kevin Walter's 30 total yards, without Asomugha defending him. Yikes!
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That JaMarcus Russell (236 passing yards, 2 TDs vs. Houston) still doesn't deserve to be drafted in 10-team fantasy leagues ... and that RB Darren McFadden (5 catches, 87 total yards) probably warrants higher PPR consideration than standard-scoring leagues. At this point, he just seems more comfortable as a pass-catcher than a between-the-tackles bull rusher.
Cincinnati 14, Cleveland 0
What I Liked: Without a doubt, Cedric Benson's 171-yard day was very impressive. But I'm even more amazed at how Big Ced responded to the challenge of toting the rock on every Bengals snap -- or so it seemed -- given the horrible weather in Cleveland. Let's hope he comes into the '09 season completely focused on quieting all the naysayers ... and not resting on his laurels off a white-hot finish to this season.
What I Loathed: I hate that I listed Ryan Fitzpatrick (5-of-99 for 55 yards) as a "lock" for 300 yards and/or three touchdowns ... without providing a "weather permitting" qualifier to such a bold statement (even in perfect weather).
What Made Me Laugh: I guess the million-dollar question would be ... how bad must Browns backup QB Bruce Gradkowski be in practice to not bump Ken Dorsey (68 passing yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs) from the starting role?
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That I should dance a Michael Flatley-style jig when I steal Braylon Edwards (4 catches, 35 yards vs. Cincy) in Round 7. In this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, Braylon will surely be viewed as damaged goods or a one-hit wonder by those who only remember his mediocre 2008 production.
Visanthe Shiancoe: Tom Dahlin/Getty Images
What I Liked: From a fantasyland perspective, I love the long-range potential of Tarvaris Jackson (309 total yards, 2 TDs). From a real-world view ... d'oh!
What I Loathed: Adrian Peterson (92 total yards) knows it's Week 16 of the NFL regular season ... and not some meaningless preseason tilt like the Hall of Fame Game, right? Was he really directly or indirectly responsible for four fumbles?
What Made Me Cry: Roddy White's oh-so-underwhelming stat line of three catches for 24 yards.
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That Visanthe Shiancoe is probably NOT the all-world talent that he demonstrated on Sunday, hauling in seven catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns. But just in case he is indeed the second coming of Kellen Winslow, Sr. (not the enigmatic Junior), then maybe I should devote an 8th-rounder to the only "Visanthe" who walks among us (at least by my count).
Tennessee 31, Pittsburgh 14
What I Liked: How cool is this: Five of the six biggest playmakers -- Chris Johnson, LenDale White, Justin Gage, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes -- scored one touchdown and posted excellent numbers in the AFC Game of the Year. Of course, that leaves ...
What I Loathed: ... Willie Parker as the one fantasy star to come up wayyyyy short on Sunday. Thirty-one yards, really, Willie?
What Made Me Laugh: I chuckled at the sight of a few Titans players wiping their muddied cleats with stray Terrible Towels. It made for good TV. However, I will point out the '05 Steelers were HIGHLY motivated by Cincy WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh pulling the same juvenile stunt after a regular-season win, to which Pittsburgh got its revenge in the playoff round that season -- the perfect prelude to a Lombardi Trophy run.
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That Ben Roethlisberger (345 total yards, 2 TDs) should get major consideration as a top-6 quarterback, even on the heels of an uneven season. In my mind, he's the perfect rock-solid choice for the fantasy GM who views "drafting a QB in Rounds 1-4" in the same vane as getting a root canal. Or watching a Seahawks game.
Seattle 13, N.Y Jets 3
What I Liked: Maurice Morris, in my mind, has done enough to clinch the team's No. 1 RB slot heading into next year. Sure, I would have loved to see Old Moe (116 yards on Sunday) convert one of his many sparkling runs into a score. But there's no denying his long-term goodness.
What I Loathed: Once again, I forgot to add "weather permitting" to Brett Favre's predicted stats, as a disclaimer. (Favre finished with 187 yards and zero TDs.) How was I to know Eric Mangini would bring New York's Storm of the Century with him to Seattle?
What Makes Me Laugh: Any comparisons of QB Matt Hasselbeck to Jon Kitna. Sure, Hasselbeck will likely be an ex-Seahawk next year (Kitna lays claim to being one, as well), given the impressive maturation of Seneca Wallace (he just wins, baby). But if I were running an NFL team in '09, I'd want Hasselbeck on my roster ahead of Kitna -- even if Hasselbeck was contractually obligated to play games wearing an eye patch.
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That I shouldn't be afraid to draft Jets RB Thomas Jones (96 yards) in the first five rounds. Yes, he'll be 31 next season, an "old" age for elite running backs. But he has another 2-3 years of stellar production ahead of him -- assuming Favre is the one handing him the ball.
Washington 10, Philadelphia 3
What I Liked: Clinton Portis (81 total yards, 1 TD) can be a real life-saver for the fantasy owner who almost sat the enigmatic 'Skins back for someone like Pittsburgh's Willie Parker (31 total yards).
What I Loathed: Talk about being fantasy bores. Both Donovan McNabb (238 total yards) and Jason Campbell (172 total yards) threw neither one touchdown nor one interception. In the immortal words (or 'word') of comedienne Kathy Griffin ... Snoozers!
What Made Me Cry: The aforementioned Westbrook dink pass/catch in the fourth quarter that singlehandedly ruined my fantasy season (although I'm sure the consolation prize of a year's supply of Turtle Wax will ease the pain).
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That DeSean Jackson (21 total yards) is nothing more than a late-round consideration. In fact, it's almost surreal that D-Jax even surpassed the 100-yard mark in receiving his first two pro games.
San Francisco 17, St. Louis 16
What I Liked: That I ignored the four-letter network's plea to start 49ers RB DeShaun Foster against the Rams, thinking he'd actually perform like a Frank Gore clone. (For the record, I'm not bashing ESPN's pre-kickoff podcasts, on the whole. From a fantasy perspective, the show trumps anything FOX or CBS does between 12 and 1 p.m. on Sundays.) Instead, I went with Maurice Morris. Smart move.
What I Loathed: I just cannot shake the feeling that Rams rookie WR Donnie Avery still needs more seasoning before being deemed "draftable" in standard-scoring leagues. In PPRs, though, he's definitely worth a 10th-round flyer.
What Made Me Laugh: Pretty much everything about this one. In fact, I'd love to meet the guy who had the gall to start QB Marc Bulger (227 yards, 1 TD) in the fantasy Super Bowl ... and thought he actually had a chance of winning a title. And then, I'd like to punch said idiot in the mouth.
What I'm Going To Remember on Draft Day: That Rams RB Steven Jackson (119 total yards vs. San Fran) is a top-5 pick next year (likely behind Adrian Peterson, Brian Westbrook, Michael Turner and Matt Forte) -- no matter what my SI.com colleague Jeff Ritter believes to be true.