September 21, 2010

What a start to another crazy NFL season. Can I give you all a little advice? Assuming we have a season in 2011, don't watch any so-called experts on TV predicting playoff teams. It's one of my biggest pet peeves in the world. All they do is pick the same exact teams that made the playoffs the year before.

In today's NFL, that simply doesn't happen. Don't these guys realize there is a better chance of teams like Kansas City and Tampa Bay making the playoffs than there is of all the same teams returning from the previous year? It's just stupid. What should we expect, though? There is nothing on TV anymore besides former players who know nothing and say even less. Apparently if you played football you are somehow qualified to do a job others need a college degree to do.

Howard Cosell predicted this would happen way back in the mid-70s and he was right. Forty years later sports fans are now much dumber because of it.

The main point of this rant is that people are stupid. That's why they all picked the Jets, Cowboys and Vikings to be Super Bowl contenders when each team had a bunch of question marks on paper. I guess it's no surprise those teams are a combined 1-5, while projected bottom-feeders, Kansas City and Tampa Bay, are 4-0. That's how it is in the NFL today. It just amazes me that every single year people are surprised when it inevitably happens.

Speaking of surprises, I really have to tip my hat to Mike Tomlin. The Steelers are 2-0 and they are down to their fourth quarterback. Meanwhile, Dallas lost its right tackle for one game and couldn't manage a first down. I guess that's the difference when one team has a good coach and the other has an Oompa Loompa roaming the sidelines.

Just so you know, I can be found all over the place now. In case you haven't heard, the Sports Grumblings Live radio show is now on Sirius/XM every Saturday night from 8-11PM ET. I'm featured in the first and third hour. You can catch the show on Sirius channel 211 and XM channel 147. Check it out.

You can catch my comical musings on Twitter. If you want to follow my opinions daily during the season, this is a great place to get solid fantasy advice, not to mention a chance to get inside the cockeyed mind of Thomas Casale.

If you need The Bottom Line a little more in-depth and want to argue sports and life with me, then Facebook is a good option.

Now, onto the Fire Sale ...

Johnny Knox, WR Bears -- Knox was one of my sleepers and the Bears receiver I liked the most coming into the season. I just think he fits well into Mike Martz's system.

The word I think of when I watch Knox play is "smooth." He runs good routes, has soft hands and overall Knox just makes things look easy. I pointed out last week that I don't think Devin Hester will ever be consistent enough to become a No. 1 receiver. While Hester had a good game against Dallas, I still believe that.

Knox may never be a No. 1 receiver either but his skill set makes him the best option out of the Bears pass catchers in my opinion. I said this summer that Knox's versatility allows Martz to do a lot of different things with him and I think we are seeing that early in the season.

Knox is coming off a nice outing against Dallas where he caught four balls for 86 yards. I think he's going to continue to get better as the year goes on. The guy I played last week benched Knox. Don't you make the same mistake. Get Knox in your starting lineup.

By the way, remember when everyone was drooling over Devin Aromashodu? That didn't last long. If you refused to listen to me and drafted that stiff, you can part ways with him. Aromashodu is now the Bears fourth receiver behind Earl Bennett.

Tony Moeaki, TE Chiefs -- When I did my Rookie Report for Sports Grumblings, Moeaki was a player I advised people to keep a close eye on. Not only was Moeaki a dangerous downfield threat in college but he really had no one ahead of him on the depth chart. The Chiefs tight ends were abysmal last year.

The thing I always liked about Moeaki from his days at Iowa is he has great body control. He really knows how to shield defenders away from the ball, plus Moeaki has that big frame to be a threat in the red zone.

The Chiefs passing game really hasn't gotten off the ground yet. Matt Cassel has looked awful, and I'm being nice because I like the guy. However, I think Moeaki is a player with a lot of upside, assuming Kansas City's passing attack improves.

If you are in a keeper league, Moeaki should definitely be on your radar. In traditional leagues he will be a solid spot starter and help add some depth to your tight end position.

Jason Snelling, RB Falcons -- Talk about impressive. The thing that really jumps out at me about Snelling is although he is a big back, he's also very versatile.

Once Michael Turner left the game with a groin injury, Snelling ran for 129 yards and scored twice. He also caught five balls and scored another touchdown through the air. That's what almost makes Snelling a better fantasy option than Turner in PPR leagues; he catches a lot more passes.

Snelling showed last year that he's more than capable of filling in for Turner. Word out of Atlanta is that Turner's groin injury isn't serious, although those can be tricky and linger throughout the season. If you can get Snelling, do it. He will pay big dividends should Turner's groin act up.

Mike Tolbert, RB Chargers -- I'm a great fantasy football owner. You know how I came to that conclusion? It's because every single year I compete for my league title, despite the fact my first two draft picks wind up being disappointments.

This year my first two picks were Ryan Mathews and Shonn Greene. Yet, somehow I'm 2-0 in the Fire Sale Fantasy Football League. Greene has long since been traded and now Mathews is hurt. That's what makes fantasy football so much fun in my opinion. Just as is the case with real football, championships don't come easy.

Luckily for me and other Mathews' owners, early reports are his ankle injury doesn't appear to be serious. Although, just like Turner and his groin, ankle injuries can linger, so I would advise grabbing Tolbert as insurance just in case. Besides, Tolbert scored from the 1-yard line even before Mathews was hurt, so his fantasy value is on the rise anyway.

Expect to see more and more of the Chargers battering ram, regardless if Mathews is healthy or not. The really bad news is Tolbert could start vulturing goal-line carries from Mathews, which will end up hurting both players. If Mathews' injury is worse than first reported I don't think you will lose much with Tolbert in there.

Maybe next year I will just skip the first two rounds of my draft. How about those old time fantasy nerds that tell you not to take a quarterback early? Sure, I would much rather have Greene than Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning. There is nothing worse than stubborn old geeks that won't change with the times.

Demaryius Thomas, WR Broncos -- This summer I was raving about Eric Decker. I thought he was really ready to come in and contribute right away and would fit in perfectly with Denver's offense. I said when Decker outperformed Thomas this year, you could send me a Thank You card. This is why if you listen to half of what I say; you will have an unstoppable fantasy team.

I'm not a big stat guy. I'm an eyeball guy. I watch a ton of football and use that to come up with my conclusions. Sometimes I see a guy play early in his career and say, "He's a stud." I found myself saying that a lot when watching Thomas Sunday.

Even though I liked Decker, I had no problems with Thomas when he was at Georgia Tech. I actually saw every Georgia Tech game last year because I'm an option freak. While I expected Thomas would make a splash in the NFL, I thought it may take him a season to get used to the NFL game after playing the last two years in Tech's option offense.

Well, it looks like I was wrong. Thomas played like a grizzled veteran against Seattle. I always knew about his freakish God-given physical skills but I thought Thomas ran some really good routes in his first NFL game. The bottom line: This kid is a monster. I've seen all I need to see out of him. I'm on the bandwagon.

There is a chance Thomas is still available in your league because he was injured for most of the summer. If that's the case, pick him up. Jabar Gaffney's days of being the Broncos top receiver are over. You can take that to the bank.

Danny Ware, RB Giants -- You may be surprised to see Ware on this list, but I like to try and be ahead of the curve in situations I think may transpire throughout the year. I actually wrote that sentence BEFORE the Colts/Giants game if you can believe it. I had a feeling Brandon Jacobs was about to blow and, man, was I ever right.

This is also why you should be following me on Twitter. I advised people on last Wednesday to put Ware on their radar. Meanwhile, the fantasy "expert" on NFL Network told us to start Steven Jackson and DeAngelo Williams this week. Hey, he's not the best color man in the business for nothing. Thanks a lot for the great advice, buddy. Here is a tip for next week: start Chris Johnson. Also, I have a hunch this Peyton Manning kid is about to break out. Keep an eye on him.

I have been stating one fact over and over since last season about Brandon Jacobs: once a back of his size not named Jerome Bettis starts to decline, they almost never bounce back. That's not my opinion; it's a documented fact in the NFL. I actually didn't even have Jacobs on my draft board. People would e-mail me and say, "I know you don't like Jacobs but I got him in Round 11." Wasted pick. When are you going to start Jacobs? Why would you start Jacobs?

This brings me to the other point I made about Jacobs: he is not a guy to take a demotion quietly. I met Jacobs a few times when I covered the Giants/Patriots Super Bowl, and while he gives a great interview, one thing became evident to me: Jacobs is always going to speak his mind, whether it's good or bad. He's one of those players you simply can't control.

So when things are going well, Jacobs is a great teammate; however, when Jacobs isn't happy, the exact opposite holds true and he becomes a distraction, which is already happening. Did you see him throw his helmet into the stands Sunday night? What a maniac. Jacobs will run his mouth right out of New York. Now Jacobs is asking to be traded. That's a good idea. I'm sure there are plenty of teams in the UFL that could use his services.

Under Tom Coughlin the Giants have almost always used a two-back system. I'm a big Ahmad Bradshaw fan but I'm also a realist. He is on the smaller side and has had injury problems in the past. Coughlin won't want to run Bradshaw into the ground and wear him out, so Ware could take over that Derrick Ward-type role for the Giants.

Ware may not have any value at the present time but keep an eye on Jacobs' situation. My cousin is a big Giants fan and I told him this summer that Jacobs wouldn't last the season in New York. The guy is a jerk. Be proactive and grab Ware before it's too late. He could end up being a nice pickup in fantasy leagues for later on down the line.

Aaron Hernandez, TE Patriots -- How did you like that Sneaky Start from last week? Hernandez proves again why I'm the most informative fantasy writer out there by catching six passes for 101 yards against the Jets. If only Greg Camarillo had caught more than one pass we really would have had something there. Anyway, if you need tight end help, give this kid a look. He's a player.

Beanie Wells, RB Cardinals -- Regular readers of the Fire Sale shouldn't be surprised that Wells is always hurt. When Wells was drafted virtually everyone loved him. Everyone but me, that is.

The main reason I thought Wells would be a bust in Arizona: He doesn't know the difference between pain and injuries. The guy has no toughness at all.

It is my opinion that when Wells was in college, he sat out games in which he was healthy enough to play. I have no proof of this, it's just my opinion. However, I always got the impression from his days at Ohio State that Wells doesn't like pain. For those of you who own Wells in fantasy leagues, my guess is you are now getting that same impression.

What Wells is doing in Arizona is the exact same thing he did at Ohio State. You know how many times Wells was a "game-time decision" in college? It was virtually every week. If it wasn't a toe, it has a thigh. If it wasn't a finger, it was a shoulder. This went on for Wells' entire college career, so should we really be surprised that it's continuing now that he's in the NFL?

Wells was inactive for the second week in a row on Sunday. If you own Wells, you will probably have to deal with the same headache all season long. He will return, play a couple of games and then it will be back to game-time decisions for Beanie. He can't help it, that's who he is. In other words, Wells is a pansy. There's just no other way to say it.

Jamaal Charles, RB Chiefs -- I was very high on Charles this summer. I didn't really buy into Todd Haley saying Thomas Jones would get a lot of work. After two games, it looks like Haley was telling the truth.

I just think it isn't very smart to keep a home run hitter like Charles on the bench when you have an anemic offense. I understand that Jones is going to have a role in the offense but against the Browns on Sunday, Charles only had 12 touches, compared to Jones' 23. That's just perplexing to me.

Listen, it's not like Jones was setting the world on fire. He had 22 carries for 83 yards, while Charles had 11 carries for 49 yards. What is even more baffling is the lack of touches Charles is seeing in the passing game. He only caught one ball against Cleveland. I'm sorry, but has the Chiefs coaching staff ever seen what this guy can do in space? Charles may be the most dynamic open field runner not named Chris Johnson.

The Chiefs only had 312 yards of offense on Sunday. Other than Charles' big touchdown run against the Chargers, Kansas City did nothing on that side of the ball in that game either. I think it's time to get your most dangerous player more involved.

I have no idea what Haley is going to do but I think this is a great time to buy low on Charles. My educated guess is they don't want Charles getting worn down and he will start getting more carries as the season goes on. If you are hurting at running back, this is the perfect time to trade for a player like Charles. He's underachieved up until now but I have to believe his best days are yet to come.

Cowboys running backs -- For those of you who don't know, I have been a Dallas Cowboys fan for over 30 years. That means two things: I hate Jerry Jones and I know the team very well.

All summer I had people coming up to me saying how the Cowboys were their pick to win the Super Bowl. One thing I kept telling everyone was that I was worried about the running game. I follow the John Madden running back theory which is if you have three backs you really don't have any backs.

Now, I understand in today's NFL a lot of teams use two guys. However, even in that case coaches ride the hot hand. Dallas is trying to split carries between three very different runners. Not only can none of the backs get into a groove but their different styles make it harder for that average offensive line to open up holes.

Listen, I saw this coming a mile away. I love the Cowboys but I'm also not a blind homer. I know they got lucky last year. The bottom line is their decision makers stink, their coaching staff stinks and the team has no real leaders. Any Cowboy fan that thought they were going to the Super Bowl with Jones, Mini-Jones, Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett making the decisions was kidding themselves

I don't expect the Dallas running game to fix itself anytime soon. It's a mess, and to be honest I think the best overall back out of the three is Tashard Choice. But what do I know? I was saying Miles Austin should be more involved in the offense three years ago.

By the way Jerry, you may want to get a new kicker at some point. I don't want to tell you how to run your team but I prefer kickers that can actually put the ball between those two yellow sticks from time-to-time.

Buffalo Bills -- We all knew the Bills offense wasn't going to be very good this year but after two games the unit has been an absolute joke.

Leave it to Buffalo and Chan Gailey to draft a big-time playmaker in C.J. Spiller with the ninth pick in the draft and then give carries to the very average Marshawn Lynch. It's pretty obvious what Buffalo was doing on Sunday: they were showcasing Lynch for the Packers, who are in need of running back depth. If that's the case, the Bills organization should be ashamed of itself.

You play football to win, not to try and get a fourth-round draft pick for a third-string running back. Can you imagine Bill Belichick doing that? I think what I saw out of Buffalo was a disgrace. Spiller is the one guy they have that can make big plays on offense and he's on the bench so Lynch can get all the carries? That's an absolute joke.

I actually just traded for Spiller and I still like his prospects for later in the season. I believe he's the real deal. Once Gailey figures out if he gets Spiller in space Buffalo will have its version of Jahvid Best, things will look up for Spiller owners. Until then, leave him on your bench. Apparently, that's what the Bills plan is right now. Boy, I don't understand why everyone thought hiring Gailey was a huge mistake.

I know the Raiders are a laughingstock but in my opinion the Bills are currently the worst run organization in the NFL. Chan Gailey. Man, that's funny. Don't worry Bills fans, now your team will be able to draft that overrated bum Jake Locker. That should turn things around for you.

Brett Favre, QB Vikings -- Maybe Brad Childress should send a group of players to Brett Favre's house and beg him to retire. Just a thought.

Vikings receivers -- Greg Camarillo didn't pan out last week but that could change against Detroit. Have you seen the Lions secondary this year? I guess when you sign former Giant C.C. Brown, the worst safety in the NFL, you have problems. Look for the Vikings passing game to get on track this week and if it doesn't, Minnesota has real problems. It's time to start those Viking receivers.

Julian Edelman, WR Patriots -- Aaron Hernandez was a big hit last week, so let's go back to the Patriots for another Sneaky Start. Edelman has been slowed by injuries but he's now healthy again and I expect him to become a bigger part of New England's passing game. The Patriots should rip the Bills through the air, so there should be enough balls to go around for everyone. I think Edelman has a shot to put up a 10-12 point fantasy day this week.

Marcedes Lewis, TE Jaguars -- Lewis had a big game in Week 1 and I think he has a shot to put up another solid performance against an awful Eagles pass defense. David Garrard was benched on Sunday but it's not his fault. That was his "week off." I've never seen a guy look so good one week and so bad the next. Garrard has been doing this week on, week off thing for two years now. Well, this is Garrard's week to play well. Look for Lewis to benefit and put up some good numbers.

Jordan Shipley, WR Bengals -- Shipley is turning into a solid flex option in PPR leagues. My theory in playing fantasy football is if three guys can have big weeks and the rest of my players can score between 10 to 15 points, I will be tough to beat. Shipley looks like he's capable of scoring in that 10 to 15 point range most weeks. The Panthers pass defense made Josh Freeman look like a Pro Bowler, so Shipley should have some opportunities to make plays on Sunday.

Bucs defense -- I have been pretty good with my defenses. I had the Lions in Week 1 and the Chiefs in Week 2. I think I have another strong start this Sunday with the much-improved Tampa Bay defense. The Bucs have played well on the defensive side of the ball early in the season and now they get a Steelers team that could be starting me at quarterback by the time Sunday rolls around. If you are like me and start rotating defenses on a weekly basis, the Bucs make for a solid play against a struggling Steelers offense.

Tom "The Bottom Line" Casale is a featured NFL writer at Sports Grumblings and a featured guest on the "Sports Grumblings Live!" radio show on Sirius Ch. 211 | XM Ch. 147 every Saturday night from 8-11p.m. ET. You can reach Tom with your question, comments and suggestions at

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