Chad Johnson: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
I don't know what to make of Chad Johnson's declaration that he'll kiss the B-I-G 50-yard-line star at Texas Stadium -- the home of the Cowboys - if he scores a touchdown this week. In one regard, I applaud his bravado and encourage him to keep yapping ... because, in the past, it seemingly motivated him to play better. But on the flip side, I think Ocho Cinco's crazy predictions are covering up a stunning decline in his skill level -- no matter who's throwing him the ball. And that should be a major red flag to fantasy owners everywhere.
In Johnson's last 13 games (62 catches, 4 TDs), he's recorded six or more catches only three times, surpassed 80 yards just five times and has only scored in three games. Now, to be fair, Johnson had yardage outputs of 95, 102, 138 and 209 at the tail end of last year - so the potential for goodness is obviously there. But Johnson (11 catches, 116 yards, 1 TD in '08), in my mind, has officially crossed the line from "weekly wonder" to "feast-or-famine ... but probably famine" wide receiver. Perish the thought!
Staying in the pass-catching family ... we have the great battle of Reggie Wayne vs. Andre Johnson this week , as part of the Colts-Texans "must-win" affair in Houston. Both teams badly need a win on Sunday (since the Titans are off to a blazing 4-0 start in the AFC South), and I would be shocked if the two stars don't play major roles in the outcome (Prediction: 110 total yards and/or 1 TD each). I would also be shocked if this isn't Johnson's breakout game of '08 -- as I predicted last week. Am I crazy here? Our friends at AccuScore apparently think so:
Wayne: 6 catches, 84 yards, 0.6 TDs
Johnson: 7 catches, 62 yards, 0.3 TDs
Final Score: Colts 29, Texans 20
1. Indianapolis @ Houston
2. Minnesota @ New Orleans
3. Tampa Bay @ Denver
4. Cincinnati @ Dallas
5. Washington @ Philadelphia
Care to hear the fantasy-purgatory story of Brandon Marcus, a senior at USC and future radio voice for an NBA franchise? In one of Brandon's leagues, he and another owner conceived a seemingly fair trade of Larry Johnson and Darren Sproles (giving the other owner the LaDainian Tomlinson handcuff) for Jay Cutler and Edgerrin James (no longer his dominant self); but the deal will likely be rejected (for a second time, in various forms) by a handful of petulant owners who don't respect the No. 1 tenet of fantasy football: Keep your nose out of another owner's business.
I cannot overstate the following -- and this is a general rant separate from Brandon's case: It is one thing to reject unbalanced trades, for the sake of preserving integrity in all leagues. However, if you are the type of fantasy owner who rejects every trade without prejudice - just because it hinders your chances to succeed -- it's time to find a new hobby. I'm being serious here -- passionate, forward-thinking fantasy owners should not have to pay for a bitter GM's lack of creativity or chutzpah to pull off their own bold swaps..
1. Brandon Marshall vs. Tampa Bay
2. Terrell Owens vs. Cincinnati
3. Calvin Johnson vs. Chicago
4. Santonio Holmes vs. Jacksonville
5. Randy Moss vs. San Francisco
6. Antonio Bryant vs. Denver
7. Reggie Wayne vs. Houston
8. Andre Johnson vs. Indianapolis
9. Roddy White vs. Green Bay
10. Larry Fitzgerald vs. Buffalo
Maurice Jones-Drew: AP
Aaron in Libertyville, Ill. asks: Who should I start for week 5, Ryan Grant or Michael Turner?
Answer: Aaron, on paper, this matchup figures to be a blowout in Turner's favor -- especially since Grant (186 rushing yards, 0 TDs in four games) has looked passive when toting the rock the last two weeks. But there's also a hidden danger with Turner (422 yards, 5 TDs) -- namely the stunning contrast between home and away performances. He's averaging only 49 rushing yards and zero scores outside of the Georgia Dome; and until he breaks out of this inexplicable cycle of running poorly on grass (the Falcons play at Lambeau Field this week) ... I'm going to keep benching him and hope that Grant fulfills his monster pre-draft potential from wayyyyyyyy back in August.
Torben in Aalborg, Denmark wonders: Who would you start of the following -- Steve Slaton (vs. Indy), Larry Johnson (vs. Carolina), Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. Pittsburgh) or Felix Jones (vs. Cincinnati)?
Answer: Torben, as I stated in our e-mail correspondence on Thursday (my first one to Denmark, I believe), all four guys are strong plays this week - each with the capacity to generate 110 total yards and one touchdown. But if I had to choose two, I'd go with LJ and MJD. Thanks for writing!
Andrew in Parma, Ohio wonders: I am in a PPR league and am about to drop Joey Galloway and possibly Devery Henderson. Should I pick up Deion Branch or Bobby Engram, and do you have anyone in mind that I could drop Henderson for? Lance Moore is available, but is he going to be useful when Colston returns?
Answer: Andrew, there is no reason to ever drop a (reasonably) healthy Galloway -- a 1,000-yard receiver the last three seasons -- for someone coming off major knee surgery (Branch). But if you want to add Branch or Lance Moore (17 catches, 203 yards, 2 TDs) for the sake of dumping Henderson (who has no real fantasy value), then by all means, do the deed! (Moore, by the way, will likely average 6 targets per game once Colston returns -- a decent number.) At the very least, you should do everything in your power to acquire Engram -- Matt Hasselbeck's favorite receiver and one whose injury had nothing to do with the foot, ankle, knee or groin.
Michele in Louisville wonders: This past week, I added Antonio Bryant and dropped Wes Welker due to their byes. Do you think I should drop Bryant and add Welker this week? Secondly, which running backs should I play this week -- Matt Forte (vs. Detroit) Brandon Jacobs (vs. Seattle), Addai or Fred Taylor (vs. Pittsburgh)? I only play two a week.
Answer: Michele, in a Points-Per-Reception league, I'd rather have Welker for the season. But in a standard-scoring league, I would recommend keeping Bryant (Brian Griese's favorite target) over Welker and the Brady-less Pats. Secondly, as much as I love Forte in his rookie season, I cannot endorse him over Jacobs and Addai. Both players have good matchups and both, ironically enough, have special incentive to dominate each week and land a big-time contract extension come February.
Jerome the Redskins Nut asks: Who's the moron who's answering these fantasy questions? This dumb-wit is merely stating the obvious picks and is more wrong than right on his risky picks. Take, for example, his RB locks: Brian Westbrook vs. the 'Skins. Does he read the injury report? BW may not even play this Sunday thanks to his ankle injury. Also, he thinks the Eagles will smoke the 'Skins 34-3? Is he out of his mind? He's talking about a 'Skins team that beat Dallas in Dallas ... and an Eagles team that almost gave up a 50-spot to the Cowboys. They maybe without their biggest playmaker in Westbrook for the 'Skins game and they will score 34 against the Redskins D? Eagles fan perhaps?
Answer: First of all, Jerome, I commend your passion toward hating my picks. But if you had done the research in the Fantasy Clicks archives, you would know that I'm operating at 62-percent efficiency with my QB, RB, WR, TE locks through four weeks -- an excellent record, I believe, for someone who cannot predict the future! All kidding aside, I sense your rant is more about the Redskins than the season itself. So here's my rationale for the Eagles' 34-3 home thumping come Sunday:
1. The Redskins -- in my mind - would privately be content to finish the NFC East road tour (Dallas, Philadelphia, N.Y. Giants) with a 1-2 mark (they won at Dallas last week); thus, they may be somewhat complacent for the Eagles game (human nature).
2. It's very, very hard to play two emotionally taxing road games - back-to-back -- with intra-division foes.
3. Brian Westbrook (assuming he plays) and Correll Buckhalter are ripe to score three total touchdowns against the injury-depleted Redskins defense (Jason Taylor and Fred Smoot may be inactive).
4. The Eagles (2-2) are desperate to win this week -- and when dealing with relatively similar teams, ALWAYS go with the one playing for their season.One last thing, Jerome: If I am way off-base about my Redskins-Eagles prediction, I promise to penalize myself in Week 6 ... by only watching St. Louis @ Washington (including the commercials) at home on the couch -- despite owning the DirecTV Sunday Ticket package. And oh yes, I'll also give you written props for calling me a "moron."
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 4 projections for the '08 class, courtesy of Pigskin Addiction:
Chris Johnson, Titans: 105 total yards, 2 TDs
Steve Slaton, Texans: 125 total yards, 1 TD
Matt Forte, Bears: 150 total yards, 2 TDs
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs: 25 yards
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: 75 total yards, 1 TD
Tim Hightower, Cardinals: 25 yards
Felix Jones, Cowboys: 40 total yards
Kevin Smith, Lions: 50 yards
1. Clinton Portis (he's due for an "off" week)
2. Chad Johnson
3. Edgerrin James
4. Michael Turner (why he is so mediocre on the road?)
5. Muhsin Muhammad (it pains me to write that)
Which WR holds the Dolphins' single-season record for receiving yards?
A) Mark Clayton
B) Marty Booker
C) Irving Fryar
D) Nat Moore
E) Chris Chambers
F) O.J. McDuffie
G) Mark Duper
H) Jimmy Cefalo
1. WR Brandon Jones (vs. Ravens)
2. RB Fred Jackson (vs. Cardinals)
3. TE Casey FitzSimmons (vs. Bears)
4. RB Darren Sproles (vs. Dolphins)
5. WR David Patten (vs. Vikings)
1. Ronnie Brown (his value will never be higher than the next 5 days)
2. Santana Moss (sell, sell, sell!)
3. Julius Jones
4. Laveranues Coles
5. Maurice Jones-Drew (not a fan of the O-Line)
6. Eddie Royal
7. Jon Kitna (it may be too late already)
8. Le'Ron McClain
9. Muhsin Muhammad
10. Antonio Gates
The answer is A. In 1984, Mark Clayton reaped the benefits of Dan Marino's 48-TD season, pulling down a franchise-record 18 touchdowns for the Super Bowl runner-ups. In that dream season, Clayton -- just an 8th-round draft pick in 1983 -- posted 73 catches for 1,389 yards.
2. Kerry Collins
3. Ryan Grant
4. Laurence Maroney
5. Derek Anderson
6. Zach Miller
7. Chester Taylor
8. Drew Stanton (the Lions' backup QB)
9. Matt Schaub
10. Andre Johnson (it'll be too late after Sunday)
The Raiders' press conference to announce the firing of coach Lane Kiffin on Tuesday was one of the most surreal experiences I've ever witnessed on TV. In hindsight, I would have gladly shelled out big-time monies to have a front-row seat for all of owner Al Davis' shenanigans -- from justifying the cowardly manner in which he dismissed Kiffin (by phone) and struggling to remember the interim coach's name (Tom Cable) to detailing Kiffin's alleged faults and mishandlings (by way of a 1980s-style overhead projector). The whole dysfunctional scene would have been hilariously entertaining -- if it wasn't so incredibly humiliating to the NFL.