Before I dig into fantasy football, I want to send warm congratulations to Phillies fans; well, OK, 99 percent or so of the Phillies fans, for your World Series win. When it was all over, I was a bit disappointed, but after a little reflection I walked over to my humidor, selected a 2004 Arturo Fuente Anejo Shark, (it's a very, very good cigar) toasted and lit it, then sat back to reflect on the blessings we Rays fans have enjoyed this season.
The Rays have been a phenomenal story all year. Yes, it would have been a fitting end to win it all, but the Phillies had their own great story as well. And in this particular case, there was no way both stories were going to have a happy ending. All the Rays did this year was lead the brutal American League East for nearly the entire season; they didn't choke in August and September like everyone said they would, and they took out two previous world champions, the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox to win the ALCS. Hang that banner from the catwalks at Tropicana Field; I'd say it was a pretty good year.
Joe Maddon should be a shoe-in for Manager of the Year. Evan Longoria could easily win AL Rookie of the Year. David Price will join a rotation that includes Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Matt Garza, and your choice of Andy Sonnanstine, Edwin Jackson, or any number of the talented arms currently rising up through the farm system.
As for the other small minority of Phillies fans, no congratulations are in order. You know who you are ... the ones who poured beer over a nine-year-old boy and threw mustard packets at Joe Maddon's granddaughter. You don't deserve it. Oh, and you that heckled wrestler Brian Knobbs ... you're OK. He is a Knobb after all. And that's all I have to say about it. Great job Philadelphia, you got your championship ring.
Speaking of nobs, Larry Johnson is in a deepening spiral that should get him tossed from the NFL. In this latest fiasco, Johnson allegedly threatened to kill a woman's boyfriend, and then spit a drink in her face. Johnson's latest woman-hating ways are part of a long string of issues he's had since joining the league. Hopefully this latest one will get him bounced. I hear Adam Jones needs a rehab partner.
One of the reasons why you don't trust rankings in fantasy football for your matchups: Carolina entered the game against Arizona this past weekend with the second-best pass defense. Some 381 yards and two touchdown passes later, they dropped to ninth against the pass. Digging deeper, they played San Diego, Chicago, Minnesota, Atlanta, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans prior to Arizona. San Diego and New Orleans are the only real passing teams on that list. Moral of the story? Don't rely on surface rankings when deciding who to start and who to sit. And for the record, with Oakland, Detroit and Atlanta following the bye, they'll likely be near the top in passing defense when they head into Lambeau Field on November 30. As my former mentor Matt Berry would say, "I'm just saying ..."
Adrian Peterson should be high on your list of players to acquire for the stretch run to the playoffs, if you can swing a trade. He is playing the balance of the season against teams that give up a lot of rushing yards, starting this week with Houston (21st, 119.6), then Green Bay (25th, 141.9). Following a date at Raymond James Stadium, they play Jacksonville (17th, 108) and Chicago (sixth, 85.9) before heading into the fantasy playoff weeks against Detroit, Arizona, and Atlanta. I know, I just said not to trust rankings, and I don't. But it doesn't take deep analysis to know that Green Bay, Detroit, and Houston give up huge yards on the ground to the most pedestrian running backs, and rankings will give you a high level view. Just make sure you dig deeper and don't trust them as gospel. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Welcome back, Brian Westbrook. Unfortunately, a little late to help me in the Fantasy Auctioneer Expert Invitational League, where my team has lost two in a row, including a 90-91 heartbreaker this last week to Yahoo!'s Scott Pianowski. I'm teetering on the brink of elimination and have Philip Rivers on a bye this week. Plaxico Burress hasn't been too helpful either, thanks to his mid-season shenanigans. I hope Lawrence Taylor threatened him with bodily harm, because I need every able-bodied player to be active the next few weeks.
Ted Ginn Jr., what a great game last week. But don't let that performance fool you. He'll fade right back into mediocrity in the coming weeks.
Speaking of wide receivers who can break my heart ... yes, I'm talking to you Matt Jones. Yes, I'll admit some desperation when I claimed him, but I needed a third wide receiver in a points-per-reception league, and he's been fairly steady. He was targeted 16 times last week against Cleveland and plays the Bungles this week ... if he plays.
How bad is Ryan Fitzpatrick? Just look at T.J. Houshmandzadeh's numbers for your answer. His two best games were against the Giants in Week 3 and Dallas in Week 5. That also corresponds to the only two games Carson Palmer was playing and healthy. Outside of those two games, his numbers look a lot like, well, Matt Jones.
Mewelde Moore owners, your bus has left the station. Willie Parker practiced and will most likely reclaim his starting gig this week against the Washington Redskins. The Redskins run defense has been a mixed bag this year, allowing big games to Brandon Jacobs and Edgerrin James and decent games by Steven Jackson and Jamal Lewis; but shutting down Marion Barber III and Brian Westbrook. I think I'd lean to a decent game for whomever starts against the Redskins this week, but nothing spectacular.
Kyle Orton has proven his doubters wrong. He has thrown for 250 yards or more in four of his last five games, along with 10 touchdowns. In his lone game under that number, he still tossed three touchdowns in a loss against Tampa Bay. Next up: Detroit, Tennessee, and Green Bay. Yummy.
I'm not going to talk about Peyton Manning anymore. Every time I do, he has a good game.
Note to the Spanos family. You fired the wrong coach. Norv Turner must be wiping the sweat off his brow right now, after Ted Cottrell was cut loose. If I were him, I wouldn't be getting too comfortable. You can only abuse so many scapegoats before the real source of the Chargers' suckitude (thank you Mike Gilbert) is cast out. I wonder if Marty Schottenheimer is still available?
I've been riding the Titans train for the first half of the season, but when Green Bay comes to town this week, I'm predicting an upset. Packers 27, Titans 24.