The last temptation of Warner: Fantasy Clicks

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Recent Fantasy Clicks 10-22-08: We won't get fooled again 10-21-08: Pats turn back the clock 10-20-08: Week 7 revelations 10-17-08: Johnson & Johnson 10-16-08: Who's next? 10-15-08: Deadline deal 10-14-08: Romo and Pinkie-gate 10-13-08: Week 6 Revelations 10-10-08: Clash of the titans 10-09-08: Not your father's microfracture surgery 10-08-08: Brian's Song 10-06-08: Week 5 revelations 10-03-08: Kiss and tell

The Last Temptation Of Warner

Kurt Warner: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Here's a little mystery of life question for fantasy owners: If the Rams defense gets pummeled by average-to-good NFL quarterbacks on a regular basis -- at least in the last 5-7 years -- why doesn't Cardinals QB Kurt Warner, a borderline Hall of Famer, routinely post out-of-this-world numbers against his former team? To be fair, Warner hasn't been gawd-awful against the Rams; since 2005, using a sample of five games (all with Arizona), Warner racked up 3 TDs twice and has eclipsed the 250-yard mark four times -- an 80 percent clip. But in that span, he's also thrown only eight TDs and seven INTs -- numbers that scream Tyler Thigpen more than Drew Brees.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, for starters, the 4-3 Cards face the 2-5 Rams Sunday in the NFC West Game of the Year (insert joke here). Also, I cannot decide if Warner should make my list of "Week 9 Locks for 275 yards and/or 3 TDs" ... and I thought this exercise might bring a little clarity to a murky subject.

Accentuate The Fantasy Positive

Picture this ugly Week 9 fantasy scenario: You're a middle-of-the-pack team, already scratching and clawing just to get into playoff consideration; and now, you must combat the inconvenient truths of having QB Drew Brees, RBs LaDainian Tomlinson, DeAngelo Williams, TE Antonio Gates and K Joe Nedney on their respective byes, while also compensating for the loss of RB Reggie Bush (out 2-4 weeks with a knee injury). It's enough to drive you batty ... but hardly the end of the world -- for Brees (@ Atlanta), LT, Gates (vs. Kansas City), Gore (@ Arizona) and even Carolina QB Jake Delhomme (@ Oakland) will encounter fantasy-friendly matchups in Week 10 ... while Bush is a good bet to return by Week 12 -- when the Saints host the Packers and their suddenly vulnerable defense. FYI: Reggie's untimely absence, while annoying, can easily be absorbed by grabbing Saints backup RB Pierre Thomas off waivers ... and not Deuce McAllister!

QB Locks -- 275 Yards and/or 3 TDs

1. Derek Anderson vs. Baltimore
2. Eli Manning vs. Dallas
3. Peyton Manning vs. New England
4. Trent Edwards vs. N.Y. Jets
5. Kurt Warner vs. St. Louis
6. Jay Cutler vs. Miami
7. Marc Bulger vs. Arizona

Space Jam

Here's some Week 9 food for thought: Browns RB Jamal Lewis has amassed 263 total yards and two TDs in three career games against his former team (the Ravens) -- numbers that surpass the usual RB estimates against the unrelenting Baltimore defense ... and ones that suggest Lewis -- bull-rushing behind perhaps the NFL's best O-line -- will see plenty of daylight in a must-win home game for Cleveland. Dare I say it? The University of Tennessee standout (three TDs in his last four games) is a proverbial "lock" for 110 total yards and/or 1 TD this week.

Ladies & Gentlemen ... Start Your Eagles!

By the time you read today's Clicks ... we'll be about 100 hours away from a sneaky-good Week 9 fantasy matchup: Philadelphia @ Seattle. In their last three meetings, the Eagles and Seahawks have averaged 47 combined points per game ... which portends fantasy goodness on Sunday. So, while Donovan McNabb is no spring chicken (what does a "fall chicken" look like?) ... and Seneca Wallace, Leonard Weaver and Julius Jones are not in the circa-2005 class of Matt Hasselbeck (currently injured), Shaun Alexander (with the Redskins now) and Darrell Jackson (is he even collecting an NFL paycheck?), I love everything about this matchup. Besides, I'm sure Philly coach Andy Reid is dying to exact some revenge on his friend and mentor Mike Holmgren before the Big Walrus (2-0 vs. Reid since 2006) slips into retirement-mode at season's end. Hmmm ... maybe Reid will find a way to ensure that Brian Westbrook (167 rushing yards, 42 receiving in Week 8) surpasses the 200-yard mark in back-to-back weeks? Which brings me to this: How is it possible for ANYONE to rack up 200 yards of frequent-flyer yardage just one week after being sidelined with broken ribs and a sprained ankle? If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Westbrook was a cyborg from the distant future ... and not a once-smallish guy who played college ball at that pigskin-mad utopia of Villanova (although Howie Long played there, too). It goes without saying: It's probably too late to make a trade run at Westbrook ... unless you feel like surrendering three all-stars from your roster. Boy, what a difference a week makes, huh? Last week, Correll Buckhalter may have had better value amongst the Eagles backs.

RB Locks -- 120 Total Yards and/or 2 TDs

1. Chris Johnson vs. Green Bay
2. Earnest Graham vs. Kansas City
3. Jamal Lewis vs. Baltimore
4. Matt Forte vs. Detroit
5. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Cincinnati
6. Adrian Peterson vs. Houston
7. Marion Barber vs. N.Y. Giants
8. Brian Westbrook vs. Seattle
9. Brandon Jacobs vs. Dallas

Target Practice

Matt Jones: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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 applauds Jacksonville wideout Matt Jones for catching eight balls for 117 yards and one touchdown against Cleveland in Week 8, I'm busy marveling at the 16 passes that came Big Red's way. (In fact, he's been targeted 26 times in the last two games -- the kind of heights usually reserved for Brandon Marshall and Andre Johnson.) 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, presents a list of the 27 pass-catchers (including three tight ends) who are averaging at least 8.1 Targets per game (excluding Nate Burleson, who's lost for the year to injury):

1. WR Brandon Marshall, Broncos (13.2 Targets)
2. WR Andre Johnson, Texans (12.9 Targets)
3. WR Roddy White, Falcons (11.6 Targets)
4. WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs (11.1 Targets)
5. WR Steve Smith, Panthers (10.8 Targets)
6. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (10.4 Targets)
7. WR Wes Welker, Patriots (9.9 Targets)
8. WR T. J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals (9.8 Targets)
9. WR Anquan Boldin, Cardinals (9.8 Targets)
10. WR Reggie Wayne, Colts (9.6 Targets)
11. TE Jason Witten, Cowboys (9.5 Targets)
12. WR Eddie Royal, Broncos (9.5 Targets)
13. WR Plaxico Burress, Giants (9.5 Targets)
14. WR Matt Jones, Jaguars (9.3 Targets)
15. TE Kellen Winslow, Browns (9.0 Targets)
16. WR Braylon Edwards, Browns (8.9 Targets)
17. WR Terrell Owens, Cowboys (8.8 Targets)
18. WR Laveranues Coles, Jets (8.7 Targets)
19. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions (8.6 Targets)
20. WR Bernard Berrian, Vikings (8.6 Targets)
21. WR Santana Moss, Redskins (8.6 Targets)
22. WR Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers (8.4 Targets)
23. WR Derrick Mason, Ravens (8.3 Targets)
24. TE Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs (8.3 Targets)
25. WR Jerricho Cotchery, Jets (8.3 Targets)
26. WR Greg Jennings, Packers (8.1 Targets)
27. WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles (8.1 Targets)

How'd We Do?

Last week, I offered specific predictions for Week 8 -- some pure gold and others that flopped worse than For Keeps, the oh-so-boring tale of two high school kids (or newly graduated) dealing with the travails of unplanned parenthood. (Molly Ringwald, one of my boyhood crushes from way back when, played "Darcy," the lead character.) So, why am I bringing up this largely ignored flick from the late 80s? Well, the experience still stands as the only time I?ve ever left a movie theater before the picture ended -- a distinction that was severely tested upon viewing Dracula, Dead and Loving It! starring Leslie Nielsen and Steven Weber.

WR Locks for 110 Yards and/or 1 TD
1. Larry Fitzgerald (7 catches, 115 yards -- correct!)
2. DeSean Jackson (3 catches, 72 yards -- wrong)
3. Jerricho Cotchery (9 catches, 102 yards -- just barely wrong)
4. Randy Moss (7 catches, 102 yards -- just barely wrong, part II)
5. Santana Moss (140 yards, 2 total TDs -- correct!)
6. Steve Smith (5 catches, 117 yards, 2 TDs -- correct!)
7. Andre Johnson (11 catches, 143 yards -- correct!)
8. Plaxico Burress (3 catches, 15 yards -- wayyyyyy off!)
9. Calvin Johnson (4 catches, 57 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)

Five Players Who'll Disappoint
1. Philip Rivers (341 yards, 3 TDs -- worst prediction ... ever!)
2. Marques Colston (2 catches, 56 yards -- judgment call)
3. Steven Jackson (did not play -- technically correct)
4. Chad Johnson (5 catches, 44 yards, 0 TDs -- correct!)
5. Edgerrin James (17 total yards, 0 TDs -- correct!)

Five Unsung RB/WR/TEs Who'll Score 1 TD
1. WR Muhsin Muhammad (38 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
2. RB Leon Washington (101 total yards, 2 TDs -- greatest prediction ?ever!)
3. TE Zach Miller (56 total yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
4. RB Jerious Norwood (60 total yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
5. WR Josh Reed (19 total yards, 0 TDs -- wayyy off!)

Five Highest-Scoring Games
1. Seattle @ San Francisco (47 points -- correct!)
2. Arizona @ Carolina (50 points -- correct!)
3. N.Y. Giants @ Pittsburgh (35 points -- wrong)
4. Indianapolis @ Tennessee (52 points -- correct!)
5. St. Louis @ New England (39 points -- wrong)

Commercial Endeavors

Here we are ... almost nine weeks into the NFL season and I've yet to see any new Fantasy Football ads starring: a) The little guy who couldn't pronounce "Housh ... yo-mamah," ... b) the big guy whose marriage coincided with Draft Day or c) the curly-haired dude (I think he has a lifetime endorsement deal with Rooms To Go) who suggests "you might want to load up on kickers early." As a jaded adult, I fully realize these hilarious and memorable commercials feature actors who may not care about football in real life (Julliard-trained thespians are funny that way). But if I worked for the NFL, no expense would be too great to "get the band back together" for a whole new batch of ads. After all, I'm just dying to know the backstory behind "Fantasy Rule #37: Never name your team after an ex-girlfriend or kids breakfast cereal."

Kicker Locks For 3 Field Goals

1. Robbie Gould vs. Detroit
2. Stephen Gostkowski vs. Indianapolis
3. Ryan Longwell vs. Houston
4. Matt Prater vs. Miami
5. Jeff Reed vs. Washington
6. Jason Hanson vs. Chicago
7. Rob Bironas vs. Green Bay

Trivia Time

This one comes courtesy of Fox Sports Radio's Ben Maller (my favorite overnight radio host): Who's the only wide receiver (through Week 8) to catch at least six passes in every game this season?
A) Andre Johnson
B) Larry Fitzgerald
C) Derrick Mason
D) Randy Moss
E) Reggie Wayne
F) Wes Welker
G) Greg Jennings

If I Were A Bidding Man ...

Here are 10 free agents I'd spend at least $15 on this week in blind-bidding leagues when handling waiver-wire pickups ($100 salary cap):

1. QB Chad Pennington, Dolphins (893 passing yards, 4 TDs in his last three games)
2. QB Matt Ryan, Falcons (easily the best rookie QB in the league)
3. WR Donnie Avery, Rams (17 targets, 228 yards, 2 TDs in his last two games)
4. WR Ted Ginn Jr., Dolphins (it's hard to ignore the 175 receiving yards last week)
5. TE Greg Olsen, Bears (I think he's better than Zach Miller)
6. QB Shaun Hill, 49ers (Mike Martz is still a pied piper in fantasyland)
7. PK Ryan Longwell, Vikings (should be on waivers after Minnesota's Week 8 bye)

Trivia Answer

The answer is F. He may be breaking in a new quarterback (Matt Cassel), but Patriots WR Wes Welker (last season's receptions king -- tied with T.J. Houshmandzadeh) has caught between six and nine balls in every game this season -- the only wideout to hold such a claim. This, in a nutshell, explains why Welker (49 catches for 466 yards in '08) is fantasy gold, even with just one TD on his '08 resume.

Forsaking Snake

Loyal readers of Wednesday's Fantasy Clicks have come to expect the "Dear Mr. (Non-PC) Fantasy" segment right about here, where Mr. Snake of gives his hilarious, sometimes ulcer-inducing takes from the weekend's games. It's a great read, every time, without exception -- that is, unless Snake neglects to blog off the action ... something he's done for a second consecutive week. Snake, my man, I hope your absence is work-related ... and not the result of a heart attack (brought on by another Detroit Lions loss). Fare thee well, old friend (even though we've never met) -- and if you're not back in the saddle next week, I may have to cut this segment altogether. In the meantime ... let's talk some NBA.

Permission To Talk Fantasy Hoops ...

The & Friends basketball draft has come and gone (and just hours before the NBA's Opening Night). Here's a draft recap of our highly competitive league (where insults flow like Capri-Sun at a kids' soccer match) with head-to-head rules and nine-category scoring (points, rebounds, assists, 3-pointers made, shooting percentage, FT percentage, steals, blocks and turnovers). I had the 6th overall pick in the 14-team serpentine draft:

Round 1 -- PF Dirk Nowitzki, Mavs (it was either him or Deron Williams)
Rounds 2 -- PF Carlos Boozer, Jazz (a virtual steal anywhere in Round 2)
Round 3 -- SG/SF Andre Iguodala, 76ers (I needed a PG ... but couldn't resist his fantasy charm)
Round 4 -- PG Mo Williams, Cavaliers (If he's my best assist-man ... I could be in trouble)
Round 5 -- SF Luol Deng, Bulls (this undervalued talent -- at least this year -- does everything well)
Round 6 -- PG Mike Bibby, Hawks (immediately traded him for Mike Miller, straight up)
Round 7 -- C Tyson Chandler , Hornets (a highly dependable source of blocks and rebounds in H2H weekly leagues)
Round 8 -- SF Marvin Williams, Hawks (unless we're talking LeBron ... small forwards are a dime-a-dozen, IMO)
Round 9 -- SF/PF Andrea Bargnani, Raptors (had a monster preseason, whatever that's worth)
Round 10 - PG/SG Nate Robinson, Hornets (perhaps the biggest benefactor of Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun offense)
Round 11 -- PF/C Chris Wilcox, Thunder
Round 12 -- SG Courtney Lee, Magic (an absolute flyer pick)
Round 13 -- SG Nick Young, Wizards (a better athlete than fellow ex-Trojan O.J. Mayo)
Round 14 -- C Spencer Hawes, Kings (I'm expecting a red-hot start during Brad Miller's suspension)

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