Fantasy Musings: Chad Johnson's demise, rookie backs running aground, more notes - Sports Illustrated

NFL fantasy musings for Week 12

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The Bad Boys Club in the NFL has been in the news quite a bit this year, led by Adam Jones and Larry Johnson, but Chad "No longer Ocho Cinco" Johnson has been no slouch at providing tabloid fodder, either. I really don't care what the team rule was that he broke to get him de-activated. In fact, I'm fairly sure he broke more than one along the way to earning that benching. It's not as if he was a huge loss. In his last seven games, he's managed to gain over 50 yards twice. He's been getting the touches; he simply isn't doing anything with them. For the year, Johnson has 41 receptions, 383 yards and four touchdowns to go with a 9.3 average yards per catch, by far the lowest in his career.

• Someone please tell me why John Carney didn't play last week? I saw the official announcement, but how do you de-activate a guy who had been one of the most reliable kickers all year? My Fantasy Football Open Championship team needed .80 points to move on to the next round, and instead I got a big fat goose egg from Carney and a consolation bracket entry as my prize.

• Chris Johnson -- paging Chris Johnson -- has anybody seen Chris Johnson?

After an electric start that had Johnson on the the verge of being a shoo-in as Offensive Rookie of the Year, it seems he's sunken into the La Brea Tar Pits of fantasy obscurity over the past two weeks. Chicago and Jacksonville haven't exactly been teams opposing running backs go extinct against, but that is what happened to the Tennessee ground attack. The Jets are in town this week and they've been pretty stingy, allowing only 81.3 rushing yards per game, so it certainly won't be getting any easier.

• Some have said we're seeing evidence of Johnson hitting the rookie wall. I'm not buying it; neither am I buying him as a good start this weekend. The same goes for Tim Hightower, who supplanted Edgerrin James three weeks ago as the Arizona starting running back, only to disappoint fantasy owners after his momentary blaze of glory. He faded quickly after the game in which he gained 109 yards and scored a touchdown against the St Louis Rams. In games versus San Francisco and Seattle, he mustered a pathetic 24 carries, a combined 57 yards, and no touchdowns. I think I liked him better as the goal-line back.

• I'm beginning to wonder if the Sports Illustrated jinx extends beyond the cover. Last week, after I touted Mark Bradley and his consistent production, he caught a measly three balls for 54 yards. I guess that's OK for a third wide receiver, but it was still disappointing. I'll go back out on that precarious limb and say he'll do better this week, especially if TE Tony Gonzalez is limited.

• Continuing this train of thought, as soon as I snagged Kevin Boss off the waiver wire, his production fell into a black hole, as in zero points. I'm afraid if I bench him this week, he'll have a two-touchdown game just to spite me. Such is the life of a prognosticator in this wild and wacky NFL season.

• The Buccaneers will travel to Detroit this week without Earnest Graham, and it looks like they'll be keeping Cadillac in the garage as well. Williams doesn't seem to be ready for game time based on comments by Jon Gruden and Williams himself, which means the workload will fall on the shoulders of 32 year-old Warrick Dunn. Detroit has absolutely nothing to lose, so I expect them to play over its head hoping to earn the Lions their first victory of the 2008 season; but I still like Dunn a lot this week. He had 118 combined yards last week against a much tougher Minnesota Vikings defense, and claws out or not, the Lions won't be able to sustain enough of an effort to slow Dunn all game. He could be a really solid and sneaky play if you have, say, Brandon Jacobs, but not Ahmad Bradshaw on your roster.

• If you have Braylon Edwards on your roster, you might want to consider letting him polish the pine this week. Brady Quinn's broken finger has to be a concern, and Edwards has had his share of problems hanging on to the passes that hit him in the hands. Quinn's accuracy likely takes a huge hit, as does his ability to zip the ball into tight coverage. Could we see the return of Derek Anderson? If Quinn struggles early against the Texans, Romeo Crennel will have a legitimate reason to replace him.

• Last week, Scott Engel and I got into a heated debate about the value of Pierre Thomas. Note to self: When Scott is convinced as strongly as he was about a player last week, defer to his better judgement. Thomas had a huge game, while Deuce McAllister looked very, very old. I wonder if his re-constructed knees are in need of another patch job?

• If you've been patiently sitting on Joseph Addai this year after spending a high draft pick on him, your patience looks to be rewarded in a big way. Healthy for seemingly the first time all year, Addai broke out huge last week against Houston with 153 combined yards and two scores. His schedule for the rest of the season looks pretty sweet as well -- San Diego, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Detroit follow before finishing the season at Jacksonville and hosting Tennessee. Unfortunately, I waited too long to trade for him, but if you have an owner thinking it's time to sell high, this is a really nice buy low opportunity.

• On the other hand, those of you who were anxiously awaiting the return of Matt Hasselbeck got a double dip of disappointment. Not only did he perform poorly, which frankly was to be expected considering how long he's been out, he got beat up by the Arizona defense and has been held out of practice most of the past week just so he could recover. Don't expect a lot from him for the balance of the year. In fact, you should cut him like dead wood at this stage of the fantasy season. That goes for all three of you that own him.

• A word to the NFL: For years we've seen a glacial approach to making much-needed corrections to the replay system, with you always falling back on the excuse that you are protecting the integrity of the game. As a fan, I can tell you that we aren't buying that pitch, and in fact it really makes you sound pretty stupid.

• Here's the thing ... when we fans can see what really happened over and over and over again in High Definition, the referees need the same courtesy. Stop with the little monitor with the hoodie on the sidelines. You are destroying the credibility of some really good refs. If you don't believe me, just look at the castigation of Ed Hochuli this year for your proof. Hochuli held the reputation as the best in the game for many years, and that reputation has been crushed.

Everyone knows the refs are human, but you can mitigate the vast majority of animosity directed at your officials by providing them with the same technology that we fans enjoy. Otherwise you mock your own words before they leave your collective mouths. If it's integrity you are truly searching for, get them a 65-inch Sony High def screen, a leather La-Z Boy, and a remote control, so they can see exactly what we see and how we see it. They'll make the right call every time. Just keep the beer vendor away.

• One final word. If you are one of the many service men and women overseas and having problems setting your lineups on the weekends, my staff and I would like to lend a hand. Provide us your log in (I recommend you change your password to something temporary like, say, rotoexperts) and tell us what you need us to do and when. We'll make the changes so you don't end up with Brandon Jacobs in your starting lineup if he doesn't play, as an example. As the father and step-father of three soldiers, one of whom lost his life in Iraq last year, it is the very least we can do. We would be proud to help you win your league championship in any way we can. Simply send an e-mail to, and we'll get to work for you. God Bless our soldiers, and God Bless America.