Andre Johnson: AP
In the last 10 years, the Detroit Lions have taken four wide receivers (Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson) in Round 1 of the NFL Draft -- a statistic even more galling when you realize the Lions, after the Roy Williams trade last Tuesday, no longer have a true WR2 on their current roster (sorry, Mike Furrey). But that's a Clicks rant for another day. Do you realize the Lions - even with all their good intentions at WR through the years -- missed out on arguably the decade's two best wideouts ... by one teeny-tiny draft slot? Of course, Detroit passed over Randy Moss in '98 (taken 20th by Minnesota) and Andre Johnson in '03 (taken 3rd by Houston) in both circumstances; which leads one to wonder how things would have turned out for a franchise that boasts just one playoff victory since 1957 -- if it had plucked either stud on draft day?
Lucky for the Lions, they did the smart thing in 2007 and selected Georgia Tech wunderkind Calvin Johnson at No. 2 overall. And lucky for us fantasy honks -- at least those with the DirecTV Sunday Ticket package, since very few people in America care about teams with a combined 1-9 record -- we'll finally get to compare the greatness of AJ and CJ on the same field. How will they stack up? Well, I have each player "locked" into 110 total yards and/or 1 TD on the day. Am I crazy? Accuscore.com weighs in with its own player projections:
Calvin Johnson: 4 catches, 67 yards, 0.3 TDs
Andre Johnson: 7 catches, 88 yards, 0.6 TDs
Final Score: Texans 28, Lions 18
Regarding the recent life and times of Tony Romo, possessor of the world's most-scrutinized pinkie finger ... I led off Tuesday's Clicks by asking a very simple question: How essential is the right pinkie to a quarterback when throwing the ball 15-20 yards down the field? And now, in the wake of Romo shunning his four-week injury vacation and demanding to play Sunday against the lowly Rams, I'll make another straightforward query: How badly can someone injure a pinkie finger after they've already broken it?
If Romo can throw the football with velocity, arc and accuracy in practice this week, he should absolutely start on Sunday; and this is no selfish rant to protect my own fantasy interests (I own Romo in only one league). The 4-2 Cowboys, mired in the rough-and-tumble NFC East, are hardly guaranteed a Wild Card spot ... and road victories against bad teams (such as the Rams) should never be assumed -- especially when 40-year-old Brad Johnson serves as the emergency starter. In the first six games, Romo threw for at least 300 yards and 3 TDs four times -- something no quarterback, including the red-hot Drew Brees, can say this season. And, on the flip side, Johnson has thrown 11 regular-season passes since December 2006. Verdict: I'd rather have the in-his-prime gunslinger with a mangled pinkie this week.
1. Detroit @ Houston
2. Indianapolis @ Green Bay
3. Cleveland @ Washington
4. Dallas @ St. Louis
5. Denver @ New England
Care to hear the uplifting fantasy tale of Ray from Dallas, Texas? On Thursday, Ray sought my fantasy advice, via e-mail, about a simple 2-for-1 trade in a PPR keeper league -- Adrian Peterson for Anquan Boldin and Earnest Graham. Now, most people (myself included) would normally jump at the chance of getting AP for a banged-up Boldin (fractured sinus membrane) and Graham (514 total yards, 3 TDs), who has ceded many touches (and ultimately, fantasy points) to Warrick Dunn this season -- even if Peterson, himself, has struggled a bit. But I had a gut feeling that Ray was on the precipice of a certifiable blockbuster (slanted heavily in his favor) ... if he just waited a little longer to play his cards.
After a series of email exchanges, where Ray listed his full roster along with the roster of Peterson's current owner, I recommended converting the 2-for-1 deal into a season-changing 4-for-2 blockbuster: Peterson and Braylon Edwards (154 yards, 1 TD last Monday) for Boldin, Graham, Warrick Dunn and Eagles rookie WR DeSean Jackson. To be honest, I thought there was no chance in Hades that trade would go down; but, lo and behold, Ray's offer was accepted immediately ... now giving him a star-studded cast of: QB Aaron Rodgers, RBs Adrian Peterson, Brandon Jacobs, Correll Buckhalter and Tim Hightower; TE Kellen Winslow and WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Braylon Edwards, Dwayne Bowe and Derrick Mason (who's great in PPR leagues). Talk about a coup!
It's funny ... I have never met (nor likely will meet) Ray from Dallas. But the pride and joy I felt for him after Thursday's mini-heist had surpassed anything I've experienced in any one of my own fantasy leagues this year (even though I'm doing well in all eight leagues). That's when it hit me: I probably won't be happy, as unrealistic as this sounds, until every loyal Fantasy Clicks reader wins one league championship -- or at least until they know the feeling of locking up Peterson, Fitzgerald and Edwards to three-year keeper-league contracts. (By the way, if you're scoring at home, Ray's Thursday trade was a hybrid of the 2-For-1 Psych Job and the 3-For-2 Blockbuster -- two of the five swap strategies I've recently chronicled.)
1. Brandon Marshall vs. New England
2. Greg Jennings vs. Indianapolis
3. Reggie Wayne vs. Green Bay
4. Wes Welker vs. Denver
5. T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. Pittsburgh
6. Steve Smith vs. New Orleans
7. Andre Johnson vs. Detroit
8. Hines Ward vs. Cincinnati
9. Calvin Johnson vs. Houston
Brandon Jacobs: AP
Chris in Philly asks: I have a great group of running backs to choose from, I need to start two, but not sure of which ones. Any help? I have LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, Brandon Jacobs, Michael Pittman and Matt Forte.
Answer: Chris, if you were smart enough to draft five stud running backs -- do you really need my help? Seriously ... you have a great dilemma here. But based on this week's matchups -- I'd go with L.T. and Jacobs in a standard-scoring league ... and Bush and Jacobs in a Points Per Reception league (although I think Forte will have a great game this week, too).
Cole in Antioch, Calif. wonders: I am stacked at WR with Greg Jennings, Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald ... but at RB I have the "so far" underperforming tandem of Steven Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. Should I deal one of my wideouts and one of those backs for a top-tier back like Clinton Portis and a so-so receiver in Braylon Edwards?
Answer: Obviously, Portis (706 total yards, 6 TDs) would bolster any fantasy team right now. But hypothetically running your team, I could never make a genuine gesture for CP -- if it meant parting with two of The Big Five (Jennings, AJ, Fitz, Lynch and S-Jax). Lynch should have a great second half in wintry Buffalo, S-Jax is my favorite running back -- no matter the scoring style -- and you already have three top-flight wide receivers in the fold. It's a tough call ... and a little on the boring side ... but I would stand pat for now -- and simply make secondary improvements to your contending team.
Joe in Midland, Mich. says: I do enjoy your column. I have a predicament as of Week 7. I have the most points in the league (12 teams), but I'm 2-4. I almost need to win out to make the playoffs (6 teams). I've got Jake Delhomme, Tony Romo (and Brad Johnson), Lee Evans, Colston, Steve Smith (Panthers), Terrell Owens, Marion Barber, Steve Slaton, Chris Johnson and Jonathan Stewart. We start 2 WR, 2 RB, and one Flex. Also, would you recommend Romo, Owens, and Stewart for Drew Brees and Marshawn Lynch? If I accept the trade, what's the best lineup for the weekend?
Answer: First of all, I would do the Brees, Lynch (and another solid throw-in) for Romo, T.O. and J-Stew trade in a heartbeat. Lynch will have a great second half and Brees has a very, very friendly schedule during November and December (only one cold-weather game -- at Chicago in Week 15) ... and if the trade goes through, I'd start Brees in Week 7 (and every week after that).
Jonathan in Portland, Ore. wonders: I'm in my first year of FF and have a QB dilemma. In lieu of Tom Brady's injury, I have Delhomme, Derek Anderson and Chad Pennington. Whoever is on the bench invariably outperforms the starter. Should I seek a trade, or are there good indicators as to whom I should start each week? My RBs ( Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ronnie Brown) are producing, but I need some numbers at the QB spot to sustain my 2nd place standing.
Answer: Jonathan, I really like your team, and I love the Anderson-Braylon handcuff! But if you really, really want to upgrade ... I have a bold idea: Find Tony Romo's owner and offer him MJD and Delhomme for Romo and see if he bites ... (same goes for Drew Brees' owner). Otherwise ... I'd stay strong with your core -- for now.
Chad in Clare, Mich. asks: I have been starting Drew Brees all season and have Philip Rivers on my bench. Both QBs have the same bye week (9) and obviously Brees has proven to do well with any cards he's been dealt. However, in fantasy points, Rivers is right behind Brees in my league. Do you think it's worth it to hold on to Rivers just in case, or should I try shopping him out?
Answer: Start shopping Rivers now -- especially since he won't help you on Brees' bye week. Take advantage of the recent QB crunch (due to injuries) and maximize Rivers' trade value. And after your trade (hold out for a good one, by the way) ... go ahead and grab a serviceable guy with a great Week 9 matchup ( Matt Ryan vs. Oakland, Marc Bulger vs. Arizona, Trent Edwards vs. NY Jets). Not to repeat myself here (too late): Brees has the most fantasy-friendly sked in November and December -- soft defenses and only one cold-weather game (Week 15 at Chicago). Good luck ... and thanks!
Fifteen years from now, NFL historians will revere the RB Class of '08 in the same way the QB Class of '83 has been deified. We're talking 10 potential franchise backs -- Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, Kevin Smith, Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart, Rashard Mendenhall (out for the season) and Jamaal Charles, to name a few. Here are some Week 7 projections for the '08 class, courtesy of Pigskin Addiction:
Chris Johnson, Titans: 100 yards, 2 TDs
Steve Slaton, Texans: 150 total yards, 1 TD
Matt Forte, Bears: 125 total yards, 1 TD
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs: 75 total yards
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: 50 total yards
Kevin Smith, Lions: 125 total yards, 1 TD
Darren McFadden, Raiders: 60 total yards, 1 TD
1. Julius Jones
2. Santana Moss
3. Thomas Jones (it's not like he had a ton of yards last week with the 3 TDs)
4. Laurence Maroney ("Here's your season pass, Mr. Maroney.")
5. J.T. O'Sullivan
Can you name the only QB to play in the Pro Bowl as a member of the Detroit Lions?
A) Bobby Layne
B) Joey Harrington
C) Jon Kitna
D) Gary Danielson
E) Greg Landry
F) Eric Hipple
G) Erik Kramer
H) Scott Mitchell
1. WR Patrick Crayton (vs. Rams)
2. RB Leon Washington (vs. Raiders)
3. TE Owen Daniels (vs. Lions)
4. RB Jamaal Charles (vs. Titans)
5. WR Mike Furrey (vs. Texans)
1. Thomas Jones
2. Correll Buckhalter (I love this guy ... but his value may never be higher)
3. Larry Johnson (his volatility is even too worrisome for me, an unabashed LJ apologist)
4. Kyle Orton
5. Le'Ron McClain
6. Steve Slaton (after Sunday's huge game ... try to get him for Joseph Addai)
7. Antonio Bryant (I'm probably too late ... damn!)
8. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
9. Trent Edwards (probably too late)
10. Vernon Davis (if he has another good week ... sell, sell, sell!)
The answer is E. Greg Landry played in the 1971 Pro Bowl, the NFL's post AFL-NFL merger version of the all-star game. For the '71 season, Landry threw for 2,237 yards and 16 TDs, while leading Detroit to a 7-6-1 record as the starter. Thirty-seven years later, the Lions have yet to send another signal-caller to Hawaii
1. Ryan Torain (you'll thank me later)
2. Matt Ryan
3. Ryan Grant (his big breakout starts Sunday -- you've been warned)
4. Justin Gage
5. Derek Anderson (there's still time ? but hurry up!)
6. Zach Miller
7. Chester Taylor (I'm going to write his name here every week)
8. Drew Stanton/Dan Orlovsky (whichever one you think will assume the Lions' reins)
9. Kevin Walter (what's not to love about his 30 targets in the last 4 games?)
10. Derrick Ward (just in case you didn't notice his 101 rushing yards in Week 6)
If Tony Romo sits out this week ... that'll mean, for one October weekend, the NFL will be without QB stars like Donovan McNabb, Kurt Warner, David Garrard (byes), Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Jon Kitna, Matt Hasselbeck, Vince Young and, of course, Romo. Thank heavens for stud running backs and game-changing receivers, eh?