Recent Fantasy Clicks 9-24-08: Back to the future 9-23-08: Supercharged Monday night 9-22-08: Week 3 revelations 9-19-08: A tale of two owners 9-18-08: Thanks for playing 9-17-08: LJ vs. LT 9-16-08: Stars come out on Monday night 9-15-08: Week 2 Revelations 9-12-08: As bad as it gets 9-12-08: As bad as it gets 9-11-08: Thanks, but no thanks 9-10-08: A Kingdom For A Cassel 9-9-08: Monday night double dip 9-8-08: Week 1 revelations
Back To The Future
Trent Green: Doug Benc/Getty Images
It's funny how life works out sometimes. In August 1999, the St. Louis Rams, a perennial loser at the time, handed the starting QB gig to Trent Green after the short-lived and ill-conceived Tony Banks Experiment. Green's arrival, touted by head coach Dick Vermeil and relatively unknown offensive coordinator Mike Martz, was supposed to spark a reversal of fortune for the club -- which is exactly what happened. Green tore knee ligaments during a preseason game against the Chargers (he was 11-for-11 for 166 yards that evening) and was placed on IR, thus opening the door for Kurt Warner's historic breakout season (4,353 yards, 41 TDs), culminating in a 13-3 record and Super Bowl title for Vermeil, Martz and the city of St. Louis. Fast forward to the present: Green rejoins the Rams, a perennial loser for some time, as Marc Bulger's backup; but three weeks into the season, the 15-year veteran is awarded the starting job, with the hopes of again resurrecting a floundering franchise -- or at the very least, saving Scott Linehan's job as head coach.
Does Green, 38 and with a history of concussions, have enough in the proverbial tank to lead the Rams -- let alone be viable in fantasy leagues? For me, this is an impossible call. On one hand, Green is only a few years removed from throwing at least 4,000 yards and/or 24 TDs from 2002-05 (with Kansas City) and has a reputation for picking up offensive schemes faster than any other QB in the league. However, if Father Time hasn't gotten to Green yet (the list of great QBs at 38 or older is very, very short), surely the Rams' suspect offensive line and lack of big-play threats (outside of Steven Jackson and maybe Torry Holt) would preclude Green from showcasing his once-uncanny skill set.
Verdict: I guess it comes down to this. Assuming Green remains the starter for the season (and that's a BIG assumption), would he eventually post better numbers than Matt Cassel, Jon Kitna (if he even gets to keep his job past next week), Jake Delhomme or Jason Campbell -- QBs all lumped into that fourth tier of NFL starters? I'll stick with what I've been saying about Bulger and apply it to Green: Feel free to have him on your roster, but never consider him as anything more than a homefield starter (and even then it's dicey).
QB Locks For 275 Yards and/or 3 TDs
1. Carson Palmer vs. Cleveland
2. Derek Anderson vs. Cincinnati
3. Drew Brees vs. San Francisco
4. J.T. O'Sullivan vs. New Orleans
5. Tony Romo vs. Washington
6. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Baltimore
Bye, Bye, Bye
If you own skill-position talent with Miami, Seattle, Indianapolis, New England, Detroit (insert joke here) or the N.Y. Giants, don't forget to adjust your lineups accordingly. Roughly 85 percent of Ronnie Brown's owners sat him last week against the Patriots (including yours truly -- twice) ... and then watched him rack up 5 TDs (4 rushing, 1 passing). So, it must be doubly disheartening to see that Brown's fantasy momentum has been stunted by the bye week. The same holds true for Reggie Wayne (253 yards, 2 TDs), Peyton Manning, Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson or Brandon Jacobs (at least 93 rushing yards or 1 TD in all three games). On the flip side, you'll probably need the extra week anyway to sift through those offers for Seahawks RB Julius Jones (285 total yards, 2 TDs in his last two games).
RB Locks For 120 Total Yards and/or 2 TDs
1. Clinton Portis vs. Dallas
2. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Oakland
3. Steven Jackson vs. Buffalo
4. Chris Johnson vs. Minnesota
5. Thomas Jones vs. Arizona
6. Frank Gore vs. New Orleans
7. Reggie Bush vs. San Francisco
8. Jonathan Stewart vs. Atlanta
9. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Houston
A receiver is only as good as his quarterback ... and the number of opportunities he gets to make a catch (known as Targets). So, while the fantasy world goes batty over Tampa Bay wideout Antonio Bryant catching 10 passes for 138 yards against Chicago (thanks, in part, to Brian Griese's 67 passing attempts), I marvel at the 19 Targets that came his way.
Not to belabor the point, but Targets are a must-know for fantasy owners -- especially in PPR leagues. This underrated stat is the best way to safeguard against one-hit wonders during a long, long, long fantasy season. To wit, SI.com presents a list of the 19 pass-catchers (including four tight ends) who are averaging at least 9.3 Targets per game (excluding Nate Burleson, who's lost for the year to injury):
1. WR Brandon Marshall, Broncos (17.5 Targets)
2. WR Andre Johnson, Texans (13.5 Targets)
3. WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs (11.7 Targets)
4. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions (11.3 Targets)
5. TE Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs (11.0)
6. WR Santana Moss, Redskins (10.3)
7. WR Plaxico Burress, Giants (10.3)
8. WR Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers (10.3)
9. WR Reggie Wayne, Colts (10)
10. TE Kellen Winslow, Browns (10)
11. TE Jerramy Stevens, Buccaneers (10)
12. WR Steve Smith, Panthers (10)
13. WR Amani Toomer, Colts (9.7)
14. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (9.3)
15. WR Eddie Royal, Broncos (9.3)
16. TE Jason Witten, Cowboys (9.3)
17. WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals (9.3)
18. WR Wes Welker, Patriots (9.3)
19. WR Marvin Harrison, Colts (9.3)
I won't address the subject in great length for today's Clicks. But on Friday, we'll delve into the realistic Week 4 projections (and thereafter) for Pittsburgh rookie RB Rashard Mendenhall, now that he's the Steelers' primary ballcarrier -- at least until Willie Parker returns from injury.
Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Adrian in San Antonio asks: I have been offered Larry Fitzgerald for Drew Brees. I currently have Jay Cutler on my roster. My WRs are T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Marvin Harrison, DeSean Jackson, Roy Williams and Justin Gage. I drafted Brees to be my starter, but with the Saints' injury problems and his perfomance Cutler will be my starter going forward. Carson Palmer is also on the waiver wire and I'm not convinced he's done being a solid perfomer. I can pick him up to be my backup. Fitz will shore up my WRs. What do you think?
Answer: Adrian, are you playing in an 8-team league? Because that's the only excuse I would accept for a healthy Palmer being on the waiver wire. Ridiculous! Anyway ... Brees may be a QB1 for most teams (and the Saints have an easy-cheesy schedule during November and December -- just one cold-weather game), but you're in the enviable spot of trading from a position of strength. So, go to your computer and accept the 1-for-1 deal with Fitz and NEVER look back. Oh, and sometime after the deal goes down, go ahead and grab Carson as your QB2.
Sebastian in Cologne, Germany wonders: I have been offered Braylon Edwards and Dante Rosario (as an injury replacement for Jeremy Shockey) for Eddie Royal. My current WRs in our 14-team no-PPR league are Calvin Johnson and Steve Smith. Braylon would "compete" for the flex spot with Chris Perry, my #3 RB. The top free agent TEs are David Martin and Robert Royal. Should I accept this trade?
Answer: Sebastian, if someone is seriously offering you Braylon and the serviceable Rosario for smallish rookie Eddie Royal ... then I suggest you run -- don't walk -- to your computer and accept the deal. Sure, Braylon has struggled mightily through three games (eight catches, 73 yards and zero TDs), but there is no way he'll keep this middling pace up much longer. He's due for a bust-out game. In fact, here comes the calvary this weekend -- in the form of the banged-up Bengals! Besides, how can you possibly turn down a guy who catches balls blindfolded?
Brad in Rock Hill, S.C. has to know: I have been offered Jonathan Stewart for Julius Jones. You have said (and I tend to agree) that Jones' value is at its peak. Is this close to equal value?
Answer: Brad, as much as I like J-Stew, this would be a no-win trade for you. Think about it: Unless DeAngelo Williams goes down to injury (something I never cheer for -- karma), you'd basically be acquiring a back (albeit extremely talented) who'll likely share carries this season -- essentially a best-scenario for a rookie. On the flip side, sharing carries (with Maurice Morris in Week 5?) is Jones' worst-case scenario in Seattle. So why make the deal? When I said Jones' value would soon peak, I meant it. But he also averages 151 total yards and nearly 1 TD at Seattle's Qwest Field ... so you can afford to shoot a little higher than some rookie time-share.
Jared in La-La Land asks: I've been offered a trade where I would get Chris Johnson (TEN) and Roy Williams for Reggie Wayne. Wayne is basically my only reliable fantasy player right now with Derek Anderson, Steven Jackson and Ocho Cinco playing poorly so far. Should I do it?
Answer: Jared, as long as Peyton Manning is healthy (and he's NEVER missed a regular season game in 11 seasons), I could never endorse trading Reggie for a player (Roy) whose gawd-awful team even stinks during garbage time. Obviously, I love Johnson and he must be part of any 2-for-1 involving Wayne. But Roy's gotta go. Thanks.
Andrew in Toronto wonders: I'm in a 2QB league, and right now I am staying alive with J.T. O'Sullivan, Matt Hasselbeck and Matt Schaub. Going forward, do you see these guys outperforming struggling QBs like David Garrard, Carson Palmer, Derek Anderson; and if not, would you suggest trying to buy low on them now?
Answer: Andrew, if I had to rank the six QBs you mentioned (and I'm assuming Schaub is fully healthy), I'd go Palmer, Schaub, O'Sullivan, Anderson, Hasselbeck and Garrard. Obviously, exactly whom you play week-to-week depends on the matchups. But I would sleep better, in general, with Carson or Schaub in my starting lineup.
Kickers Who'll Make 3 Field Goals
1. Robbie Gould vs. Philadelphia
2. Nick Folk vs. Washington
3. Rian Lindell vs. St. Louis
4. Josh Brown vs. Buffalo
5. Nate Kaeding vs. Oakland
6. Matt Prater vs. Kansas City
7. Rob Bironas vs. Minnesota
8. Shayne Graham vs. Cleveland
9. Neil Rackers vs. N.Y. Jets
Follow Your Fantasy Heart
Before I finish off the mailbag ... Chris in Bellaire, Texas is having a classic fantasy crisis -- conventional wisdom vs. the old gut feeling: I'm in a regular 12-team league, and I've got Michael Turner, Clinton Portis and LenDale White playing this week with Sammy Morris out. The projected stats would have you believe it's a fairly easy decision (Turner and Portis). However, given White's propensity to get goal-line carries and scores, should I perhaps start him over one of the other two, or am I smarter to play it safe? ... I'm at a loss. Any advice?
Answer:Turner the Burner (5 TDs this year -- all at home) is certainly a promising talent, but he has yet to earn the benefit of the doubt in road games (he only rushed for 42 yards in Week 2 at Tampa Bay). So, if you strongly believe that LenDale will rumble for 80 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings (pure speculation on my part), then by all means ... roll the dice on Big Boy (and Portis) -- although White will have to compete with Chris Johnson every single week for the RB spotlight. The message here: Don't be afraid to make your own mistakes when choosing the lineups and/or riding hunches. There's no greater feeling in this industry than standing up to the courage of your convictions ... and then witnessing the huge payoff in the end. Woo-hoo ... what a rush!
How'd We Do?
Last week, I offered specific predictions for Week 3 -- some pure gold and others that flopped worse than We Got It Made, the horrible NBC comedy from 1983 that was essentially a poorly constructed homage to ABC's Bosom Buddies, starring Tom Hanks (yes, he used to be a TV actor!) and Peter Scolari.
WR Locks For 110 Yards and/or 1 TD
1. Terrell Owens (17 yards, 0 TDs -- wayyyy off!)
2. Wes Welker (55 yard, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
3. Calvin Johnson (40 yards, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
4. Reggie Wayne (74 yards, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
5. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (146 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
6. Andre Johnson (29 yards, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
7. Hank Baskett (85 yards, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
8. Braylon Edwards (27 yards, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
9. Roddy White (119 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
10. Steve Smith (70 yards, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
11. Brandon Marshall (155 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
12. Larry Fitzgerald (109 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
13. James Jones (0 yards -- incorrect)
Five Unsung RB/WR/TEs Who'll Score 1 TD
1. WR Hank Baskett (85 total yards, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
2. RB Jerious Norwood (105 total yards, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
3. RB Andre Hall (25 total yards, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
4. WR Mike Furrey (8 total yards, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
5. TE John Carlson (38 total yards, 0 TDs -- incorrect)
Who is the Buffalo Bills' receptions leader this season?
America's Top 10
Looking for an inside edge as to which running backs have the highest down-per-down value? SI.com presents the listing of backs who've produced the most first downs (rushing/receiving) since Week 1. It goes without saying, every player mentioned below is a must-have in fantasyland -- no matter the scoring system.
1. Marion Barber, Cowboys (22 first downs)
2. Michael Turner, Falcons (18 first downs)
3. Brandon Jacobs, Giants (14 first downs)
4. Adrian Peterson, Vikings (14 first downs)
5. Clinton Portis, Redskins (14 first downs)
6. Brian Westbrook, Eagles (14 first downs)
7. Joseph Addai, Colts (13)
8. Chris Johnson, Titans (13)
9. Julius Jones, Seahawks (12)
10. Marshawn Lynch, Bills (12)
11. Willie Parker, Steelers (12)
The answer is D. Josh Reed, the underrated slot receiver (5.7 targets per game) in Buffalo's highly efficient passing game, has 13 catches on the year -- just beating out Lee Evans (12) and Robert Royal (10). By the way, Reed is currently owned in 1 percent of Fanball.com leagues.
Dear Mr. (Non-PC) Fantasy
It's time for the relatively new Wednesday staple to Fantasy Clicks ... the best quotes (at least the ones suitable for publishing) from my favorite non-SI.com fantasy analyst, Mr. Snake of PigskinAddiction.com. Every week, Snake provides cutting-edge analysis that's so raw, so emotional and so biased (toward his own fantasy players, of course) ... you'll wonder how he even makes it through an NFL Sunday -- let alone write about it come Monday. Here are some Week 3 sample takes:
On the winless Texans' poor showing against the Titans: Andre Johnson is an uber-bust thanks to Matt Schaub lolly-gagging on Sundays. Steve Slaton broke out big with 116 yards and a score, but that's not going to help when your QB throws three INTs and ZERO touchdowns. Tennessee used good D, Chris Johnson and two scores from Fatdale White to rack up the easy win. Houston ... we have a problem.
On the 0-3 Chiefs, perhaps the NFL's worst team: This is how sad the Chiefs are this year ... a rookie QB (Matt Ryan) lit them up like a Christmas tree and their defense made Michael Turner look like a god. Tyler Thigpen threw three INTs for the Chiefs, and you have to wonder how in the (heck) this guy is collecting an NFL check. I mean ... I can take a snap and throw an INT ... This guy's only decision on gameday should be "Do I have these 5th-graders play dodge ball or kickball for 5th-period gym class?"
On the 0-3 Browns: They are hitting rock bottom. The Baltimore Ravens aren't even an average team and they just handed out a gangster-boogie beatdown on the Clowns. Three INTs on the day for Derek Anderson ... Brady Quinn anyone? It is time! The Ravens didn't get jack from Joe Flacco, but they were able to run the ball and cash in on the Clowns' mistakes.
On the NFC West: That division is horrid. They should be stripped of their playoff slot. Anyone here want to see St. Louis, Seattle, Arizona or San Fran in the playoffs? Didn't think so. The Rams are just awful, and for all those that drafted Steven Jackson ... looks like another year of beating your head against a brick wall chanting "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!"
On the much-anticipated 49ers-Lions matchup (at least in the Martz household): You just know there was a room full of schedule-makers who put this one down on paper ... paused for a second ... all looked at each other and busted out laughing for 5 minutes. There should be some sort of anti-crappy matchup formula in the NFL. Something like Winning percentage of Team A + Winning percentage of Team B = More than .0134.
I Cannot Leave Without Saying That ...
Next Wednesday, as a supplement to our expansive, hard-hitting, thought-provoking and occasionally gut-busting football coverage, Fantasy Clicks will begin tackling the NBA fantasy season, specifically the draft. In the meantime, here is one national publication's overall top-15 (roto-style, five positions):
1. LeBron James, Cavaliers
2. Chris Paul, Hornets
3. Kobe Bryant, Lakers
4. Dwight Howard, Magic
5. Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
6. Elton Brand, 76ers (man, that's weird to write!)
7. Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks
8. Tim Duncan, Spurs
9. Vince Carter, Nets
10. Amare Stoudemire, Suns
11. Baron Davis, Clippers (even weirder to write)
12. Carlos Boozer, Jazz
13. Josh Smith, Hawks (suprised I wrote that)
14. Deron Williams, Jazz
15. Al Jefferson, Timberwolves
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