Clinton Portis: AP
Sure, the game looks like a real dog on the Week 6 schedule log -- winless St. Louis @ Washington -- but there is plenty of intrigue surrounding the delicious battle between Steven Jackson and Clinton Portis, two rulers of the fantasy world. Jackson has caught fire after a sluggish start -- amassing 128 and 188 total yards (with 1 TD) in his last two games. Portis has been similarly stellar against excellent competition, racking up 135 total yards against the Cowboys and 158 total yards (with 1 TD) on the Eagles -- both Redskins road wins. I have the two studs as "locks" for 110 total yards and/or 1 TD this week. Am I crazy here? Accuscore.com weighs in with its player projections:
Jackson: 94 total yards, 0.3 TDs
Portis: 146 total yards, 1 TD
Final Score: Redskins 27, Rams 14
Did you know ... that, using Fanball.com's numbers, only two tight ends are on pace to surpass 70 receptions in 2008 (Jason Witten, Chris Cooley) -- down from four in '07; only Witten (442 yards through five games) is a likely candidate to eclipse 1,000 yards (three did it last year) and only Antonio Gates (3 TDs in five games) has a better-than-average shot of hauling in double-digit touchdowns. From a Targets perspective (the number a times a pass-catcher is thrown to), nine tight ends have at least 5 targets per game -- a healthy number, for sure, but one that makes the stunning decrease of receptions, across the board, even more baffling.
Judging by all the preseason (and pre-draft) hype, you would have thought this was a golden age for NFL tight ends. From in-their-prime stars like Witten, Gates, Cooley, Tony Gonzalez, Jeremy Shockey, Dallas Clark and Kellen Winslow to emerging studs like Vernon Davis (5 catches in 5 games -- a major disappointment), Greg Olsen, Zach Miller, Dustin Keller, John Carlson, L.J. Smith, Anthony Fasano, Owen Daniels, Bo Scaife and Tony Scheffler, there was a universal belief that fantasy owners would be knee-deep in big numbers -- no matter which tight end they drafted or when they took 'em. Instead, the lack of production, Witten aside, has fantasy owners cursing in hushed tones or barking at the moon -- no matter which tight end they drafted or when they took 'em.
1. Dallas @ Arizona
2. Jacksonville @ Denver
3. St. Louis @ Washington
4. N.Y. Giants @ Cleveland
5. Detroit @ Minnesota
Ever hear the old joke recycled by hundreds of existential comedians: Why is that you can park on a driveway but DRIVE on a parkway? Well, the NFL has a new spin on an old classic: "How is it possible that Saints receiver Marques Colston (recovered from thumb surgery) can practice -- as he did on Thursday -- but won't play ... and yet Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck won't practice this week (back injury) but will definitely play against the Packers?" Hmmm ... maybe noted CFL fan Alanis Morissette (she's Canadian) could write a song about it?
1. Brandon Marshall vs. Jacksonville
2. Terrell Owens vs. Arizona
3. Calvin Johnson vs. Minnesota
4. Wes Welker vs. San Diego
5. Devery Henderson vs. Oakland
6. Steve Smith vs. Tampa Bay
7. Andre Johnson vs. Miami
8. Patrick Crayton vs. Arizona
9. Bernard Berrian vs. Detroit
10. Larry Fitzgerald vs. Dallas
11. Braylon Edwards vs. N.Y. Giants
Greg from Austin asks: I have Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers. This week ... who sits, who starts, and why?
Answer: Greg, unless Romo has a broken right arm (last I checked ... he's healthy), you should always start him over Rodgers (whom I like very much) -- and especially against the porous Cardinals defense. In five games this year, Romo has thrown for 300 yards and/or 3 TD four times, where Rodgers has only accomplished the feat twice.
Jerry in Indianapolis wonders: I have been offered Chris Johnson, LenDale White and Roy Williams for LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles and Chad Johnson. Would you pull the trigger on this one?
Answer: Jerry, this seems to be a 50-50 trade, one that's split down the middle; so you likely won't get hosed either way. But if I had to choose, given LT's re-aggravation of his turf-toe injury, I would want the CJ/White/Williams side of the deal. Besides, with Carson Palmer's sketchy elbow, I just don't see how Ocho Cinco (0-for-5 in 50-yard receiving games in '08) would catch many passes over 25 yards this season.
Frank in Athens, Ga. says: My starters are awesome on paper, 2RBs: Marion Barber/Marshawn Lynch, 3 WRs: Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith, with Jake Delhomme at QB. I have traded away all of my depth to build this team and I am worried an injury will sink my ship. I got Fred Jackson as a handcuff to Lynch, but what happens if Barber, my No. 1 pick, goes down? Should I package Lynch and Smith in a 2-for-4 trade and try to get some depth? Like your article says, "Bench depth does absolutely nothing for you in the playoffs!" PS, I know the rule about kickers having no value in trades, but I have the No. 1 and No. 2 kickers, Josh Scobee and Matt Prater, on my team. Is it a slap in the face for me to include one in a trade?
Answer: Frank, First of all, I greatly appreciate your readership, and I love it when someone actually quotes me on strategies ... ha! Secondly, I understand your worries about having a superstar outfit with no depth. However, all of your guys have a pretty good track record for staying healthy -- so the assumption of risk isn't as great as having LT or Brian Westbrook (instead of Barber). I love your club, especially the Delhomme-Smith handcuff (I'm curious, who's your #2 QB?) ... but I also have some suggestions:
**If you're so concerned about Barber, get Felix Jones as a handcuff.
**Offering a No.1 or 2 kicker is only a slap in the face in 1-for-1 trade offers (for an every-week, standard-position starter). Feel free to include 'em in 2-for-1, 2-for-2, 3-for-3 or 4-for-2 deals (best option).
Ed in Pensacola wonders: I have been offered Aaron Rodgers or Kurt Warner for either Steve Slaton or Matt Forte and Ronnie Brown or Frank Gore. I have Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck. Should I make the trade for a backup to Favre and dump Hasselbeck?
Answer: Ed, as fantasy-friendly as Warner has been this season (10 TDs, 1,472 yards), I could never part with two premium tailbacks for any QB (Tom Brady's 2007 season aside -- 50 TDs!). I don't have access to your roster, but if you get the other owner to kick in a premium WR (like Reggie Wayne or Andre Johnson), I would do something in the neighborhood of Warner/Wayne or AJ for Slaton/Gore.
Patricio from South America asks: First off, thanks for the advice you gave me last time because it really helped me out (broken shoulder -- Rashard Mendenhall!). I was hoping you could help me out one more time. If not, it's OK, thanks for reading this anyway. I have been offered a trade. They would give me Ryan Grant and Braylon Edwards in return for Earnest Graham and DeSean Jackson. What do you think? Both are big-name guys but yet to really produce. I'm doing very well in my league right now and my RBs now are Clinton Portis, Adrian Peterson, Graham and Jerious Norwood and my receivers are Reggie Wayne, the real Steve Smith, DeSean and Vincent Jackson. Got any advice?
Answer: Patricio, I would take Grant (83 yards, 5 first downs against Atlanta) and Braylon (8 Targets per game) over Jackson and Graham every day of the week -- and twice on Sunday! Grant and Edwards are primed for breakouts and D-Jax's numbers (only 119 receiving yards the last three games) would probably decrease without a completely healthy Brian Westbrook keeping opposing secondaries honest.
Steve Slaton: AP
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 6 projections for the '08 class, courtesy of Pigskin Addiction:
Steve Slaton, Texans: 90 total yards, 1 TD
Matt Forte, Bears: 150 total yards, 1 TD
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: 40 total yards, 1 TD
Tim Hightower, Cardinals: 50 total yards
Felix Jones, Cowboys: 100 total yards, 1 TD
Kevin Smith, Lions: 70 total yards, 1 TD
Darren McFadden, Raiders: 50 total yards
1. Laurence Maroney
2. Chad Johnson (he practically has a season pass here)
3. DeAngelo Williams (he's a fine back -- but not "1, 2 or 3-TDs-per-week" good)
4. Laveranues Coles
5. Donovan McNabb (it pains me to write that)
Which WR holds the Jets' single-season record for catches?
A) Al Toon
B) Keyshawn Johnson
C) Laveranues Coles
D) Don Maynard
E) Rob Moore
F) George Sauer
G) Wesley Walker
H) Santana Moss
1. WR Patrick Crayton (vs. Cardinals)
2. RB Le'Ron McClain (vs. Colts)
3. TE John Carlson (vs. Packers)
4. RB Darren Sproles (vs. Patriots)
5. WR Chris Henry (vs. Jets)
1. Ronnie Brown
2. Santana Moss (sell, sell, sell!)
3. LaDainian Tomlinson
4. DeAngelo Williams (he may not score 3 more TDs the rest of the year)
5. Maurice Jones-Drew (not a fan of the O-Line)
6. Steve Slaton (beware of the Rookie Wall sometime around Week 10)
7. Roy Williams (I doubt he'll see 19 Targets this week)
8. Le'Ron McClain
9. Muhsin Muhammad
10. Antonio Gates
The answer is A. Al Toon, whom the Jets selected instead of Jerry Rice in the '85 draft, pulled down a franchise-best 93 catches in 1988 (with 1,067 yards and 5 TDs). In eight injury-plagued seasons, Toon registered 6,605 yards and only 31 TDs -- essentially the same numbers from 2 ½ seasons for Rice, a surefire Hall of Famer in the not-too-distant future.
1. Braylon Edwards (there's still time)
2. Matt Ryan
3. Ryan Grant
4. Justin Gage
5. Derek Anderson
6. Zach Miller
7. Chester Taylor
8. Drew Stanton (the Lions' backup QB)
9. Kevin Walter
10. Jonathan Stewart (he'll have his own DeAngelo-like day soon enough)
If you're not watching NFL Films' America's Game: The Missing Rings, you are depriving yourself one of the most fascinating, artfully insightful shows on television -- and I'm not just talking about the sports genre. (NFL Network has already aired four episodes -- featuring the '81 Chargers, '90 Bills, '69 Vikings and '88 Bengals). Putting a fresh take on the critically acclaimed America's Game, which details the 42 Super Bowl champions in great depth, "The Missing Rings" expertly recalls the seasons of the NFL's best teams to never win the title. It's gripping stuff, folks, equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting; and it puts me in the mood for listing the top 15 teams in NFL history to fall short of claiming the Lombardi Trophy:
15. 1967 Baltimore Colts
14. 2004 Philadelphia Eagles
13. 1967 Los Angeles Rams
12. 1994 Dallas Cowboys
11. 2005 Indianapolis Colts
10. 1979 San Diego Chargers
9. 1998 Atlanta Falcons
8. 1990 Buffalo Bills
7. 1992 San Francisco 49ers
6. 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers
5. 1984 Miami Dolphins
4. 1968 Baltimore Colts
3. 1998 Minnesota Vikings
2. 1983 Washington Redskins
1. 2007 New England Patriots