November 15, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Week 10 Revelations
Donovan McNabb: AP
San Diego 31, Philadelphia 23
  • Talk about bad luck. On any other Sunday, Eagles-Chargers would have justly commanded the lion's share of attention in real-world football circles. Instead, it had to play third-fiddle to Cowboys-Packers and Colts-Patriots. But not here in Revelations-ville, especially after Donovan McNabb's 450-yard, 2-TD day and LaDainian Tomlinson's 96-yard, 2-TD outing ... and certainly after seven certifiable fantasy stars -- McNabb, LT, Antonio Gates, Brent Celek, Philip Rivers, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin -- and one out-of-the-blue gem (Jason Avant) helped produce 54 combined points and 793 total yards.

    From the Chargers' perspective, it was great to see LT, Rivers (231 yards, 2 TDs) and Gates (7 catches, 78 yards) put their indelible stamp on a clash of offensive powers. But what could possibly explain Vincent Jackson's disappearance, in the form of one catch for 10 yards? Yes, we know Philly's Asante Samuel is the greatest cornerback since Sliced Bread (a Harvard grad, FYI), but still, should we be checking out milk cartons at supermarkets, in hopes of finding Jackson's mug photo? And what about Darren Sproles (45 yards)? Is this what happens to fringe backs, upon signing big-money deals? If so, perhaps this is a friendly reminder to avoid Leon Washington, Ladell Betts, Correll Buckhalter, et al in next year's fantasy drafts. Back to LT for a moment: Now that we've found an NFL team -- at least one that doesn't rhyme with "Schmaiders" -- for which he can dominate, is it safe to put Tomlinson back in starting lineups, beginning with Denver, Kansas City, Cleveland and Dallas in Weeks 11-14? We're guessing 'yes' ... but then again, we also took the Vegas under on "Jason Avant and 150 yards." (Kidding!)

    Speaking of Avant, who had only 198 total receiving yards prior to Sunday, should we chalk up the 8 catches/156 yards to 1) dumb luck, 2) an undisclosed deal with the devil or a 3) random act of kindness on McNabb's part? No matter the answer, it's pleasing to see his unexpected breakout didn't come at the expense of Jackson (8 catches, 91 yards), Maclin (6 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD) or Celek (6 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD). It's also comforting to know he'll be available on waivers this week, conveniently right before Philly battles Chicago in Week 11. And in case you're wondering, the Vegas over/under for McNabb passing TDs is 11.8 -- which seems a tad high.

  • Indianapolis 35, New England 34
  • After surveying the Colts and Pats' seemingly endless supply of playmakers, it's impossible to believe both teams abide by the same draft rules and live under the same salary-cap constraints of sad-sacks like the Lions, Chiefs, Browns, Raiders and Rams. Seriously, how are those clubs that bad on a level playing field? It's not like we're talking about Major League Baseball, where big-market teams (that rhyme with Schmankees and/or Tets) can afford to be completely lazy and unimaginative on the player-development front, knowing the next great player is only a Brinks-truck visit away. Nope. Somehow, some way, Indy and New England are combing deserts and turning over stones to find studs like Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Wes Welker, Laurence Maroney, Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai (68 total yards, 2 TDs on Sunday). Of course, it helps that both clubs have the two best quarterbacks of the current era -- Peyton Manning (327 yards, 4 TDs), Tom Brady (375 yards, 3 TDs) -- and two Hall of Fame-bound wide receivers to carry the load. But we digress.

    Regarding Randy Moss (9 catches, 179 yards, 2 TDs) and Reggie Wayne (10 catches, 126 yards, 2 TDs) ... we believe their Sunday shakedown may have been the greatest WR-combo day in the history of fantasy football -- at least in games NOT involving Jerry Rice. Perhaps we'll do some digging this week to confirm this belief; and if we're wrong, we'll probably let the issue resolve itself through the magic of silence.

  • Tennessee 41, Buffalo 17
  • Here's all you need to know about Chris Johnson's contribution to the Titans' home blowout: With 35 touches, including nine catches for 100 yards, CJ amassed 232 total yards and two TDs. The rest of the Tennessee playmakers -- LenDale White, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, among others -- registered only 17 touches for 146 combined yards. Amazingly, there are still some lingering doubts that Johnson isn't the No. 2 back in fantasyland -- let alone the NFL's best; there are naysayers who still believe LenDale has red-zone value; and there are some who still believe Johnson's not worth moving heaven and earth to acquire before the fantasy playoffs (an easy-cheesy slate that includes the Rams, Dolphins and Chargers). For that, we say bull ... loney. Use excessive force here, whenever necessary, to do the deed!

    On the flip side ... there are three positives/negatives to derive from Buffalo's most recent flameout: 1) RB Fred Jackson (98 total yards, including a 27-yard TD pass) may be a better fantasyland quarterback than Ryan Fitzpatrick; 2) Marshawn Lynch (55 total yards) currently wears the stench of fantasy roadkill; and 3) Lee Evans (4 catches, 50 yards, 2 TDs) is a must-consideration at the flex spot every week -- especially when Trent Edwards (or Jackson) is flinging the ball. If anything, that'll serve as a nice distraction for the Bills having zero December games of real-world importance.

  • Arizona 31, Seattle 20
  • For the tiny pockets of TV viewers who actually saw Cards-Seahawks on Sunday, they may have witnessed a true changing of the guard at running back -- twice! In one corner, we have the emergence of rookie Beanie Wells (117 yards, 2 TDs), who finally showed sustained flashes of greatness during crunch-time situations. In the other corner, we have Justin Forsett, who converted a Julius Jones injury into 149 total yards and one TD for Seattle. Now, assuming Jones' malady is minor, Forsett should remain the Seahawks' No. 2 tailback -- for now. But at the very least, fantasy owners should be flocking to the waiver wire, in hopes of securing his potential dap for the playoff weeks (Houston, Tampa Bay, Green Bay). Regarding Wells' case, you'll now have to play that time-honored game of guessing which day he'll finish with 100 yards/one score ... and which day he'll resemble a catatonic wallflower. Fun, eh? But that's the price we pay for keeping a back who's oozing with potential.

    There's also a certain sadistic enjoyment of predicting when Anquan Boldin (8 catches, 105 yards) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (9 catches, 165 yards) will reclaim their once-lofty posts on the fantasy-wideout totem pole. In Housh's case, it's a little easier to forecast greatness ... or darkness (given Seattle's dearth of top-notch WRs). In Boldin's case, though, we simply recommend handcuffing him to Steve Breaston (4 catches, 79 yards, 1 TD) -- no matter the cost. Even if Larry Fitzgerald (7 catches, 73 yards, 1 TD) is already on the fantasy payroll.

  • Revelations, Book II
    Maurice Jones-Drew: Rich Kane/Icon SMI
    Jacksonville 24, N.Y. Jets 22
  • As a general rule, Fantasy Revelations celebrates the players' actual statistical accomplishments each Sunday -- not necessarily the touchdown/field goal that got away. But Maurice Jones-Drew earns a special exemption this week -- let's call it The Brian Westbrook Award -- for racking up 145 total yards, one touchdown and stopping short at the Jets' 1 with seconds to go ... thus setting up a game-winning field goal from Josh Scobee, without giving New York ANY chance to pull out the victory. Oh sure, MJD could've easily finished with 146 yards and two touchdowns, but his selfless, spur-of-the-moment act of reviving Jacksonville's playoff hopes deserves a heaping-helping of praise. As for the "stopping short" link from above, it's not like stopping short in Seinfeld-ese ... but you get the idea.

    Speaking of the Big Apple, it was neither a stellar nor yawn-inducing day for the Jets playmakers (minus Shonn Greene's 26 total yards). Mark Sanchez has evolved into a regular starting consideration, depending on matchups; Jerricho Cotchery (6 catches, 68 yards, 1 TD), Braylon Edwards (3 catches, 79 yards) and Dustin Keller (6 catches, 58 yards) reaffirmed their worth in New York's typically run-first, run-second attack; and Thomas Jones (77 total yards, 1 TD) made another case for being a top-15 pick in the 2010 fantasy drafts -- regardless of his age (he'll be 32 then) or which team signs him in the offseason.

  • Kansas City 16, Oakland 10
  • Sometimes, it pays to be dense about the world. Take yours truly, for example. Having slept until noon (EST) on Sunday, I was largely unaware the Chiefs had tabbed Kolby Smith as the starting tailback -- over Jamaal Charles. And then I went on Twitter to answer last-minute reader questions, blissfully unaware that everyone and their brother had been busy dumping Charles for Smith ... since the "starter" figured to dominate the Raiders. Well, ain't that a kick in the head for Charles, who racked up 117 total yards and one touchdown ... while Smith tallied only 12 yards on nine pedestrian carries. Perhaps my cluelessness will pay off even more in the coming weeks -- like thinking QB Matt Cassel (216 passing yards vs. Oakland) deserves to be a starter during the fantasy-playoff weeks ... or Dwyane Bowe (6 catches, 91 yards) makes for a better handcuff than Matt Hasselbeck/T.J. Houshmandzadeh down the stretch.

    Regarding the Raiders, it'd be easy to take potshots at JaMarcus Russell (67 yards passing, zero TDs) for failing to win a one-man quarterback competiton (and no, Bruce Gradkowski doesn't really count). But who's to say the dysfunctional QB carousel in Oakland won't spin back into Russell's favor -- maybe next week against Cincinnati? Bottom line: The Raiders' passing game is such a train wreck right now, we're not sure either Jim Plunkett, Daryle Lamonica, George Blanda, Kenny Stabler or Todd Marinovich (sic!) could remedy this mess in the short-term. Thankfully, the running game is solid with Michael Bush (129 total yards), Justin Fargas (41 yards, 1 TD) and back-from-injury superstar Darren McFadden (11 rushing yards -- he gets a one-time free pass). But ay the rub: Good luck guessing which tailback will play the starring role from game-to-game, week-to-week.

  • Carolina 28, Atlanta 19
  • It's been said for weeks: The only way Carolina can consistently win this season -- while simultaneously enduring the demise of QB Jake Delhomme -- is to run the ball at least 30 times per game. And as luck would have it, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 30 rushes against a beleaguered Atlanta defense that suddenly can't stop anyone -- especially the best RB combo in the biz. Once again, Williams received the majority of touches and total yards (122) ... but failed to reach the end zone; and Stewart (82 rushing yards) only required 11 touches to produce two scores. Simply put, Williams/Stewart represent the only RB handcuff that could conceivably start (and flourish) together in 12- or 14-team leagues. Steve Smith (3 catches, 34 yards, 2 TDs), Muhsin Muhammad (6 catches, 91 yards) and even Delhomme (195 yards, 2 TDs) deserve some fantasy love, as well, although none of 'em are starting locks from this point forward -- even with Tampa Bay on the Dec. 6 docket.

    On the flip side ... the Falcons' future is more of a hot-button issue than their fantasy present. Yes, Michael Turner rushed for 111 yards on just nine carries ... but he's likely out for 1-2 weeks with an ankle injury. Yes, Jason Snelling racked up 93 total yards and one touchdown in relief of Turner ... but he's not necessarily built like a classic, every-down back (especially when opposing defenses have time to prepare). And yes, Jerious Norwood may return to the Falcons next week against the Giants ... but what's the point of placing all your fantasy marbles with an injury-plagued back? Of course, none of the above problems would be so profound if Matt Ryan (226 total yards, 1 TD) was playing at a high level OR Roddy White (7 catches, 98 yards) could recapture some of his Weeks 5-8 magic. Instead, everyone will just have to pull together and absorb a club-wide slump that's slowly devolving into a drought.

  • Miami 25, Tampa Bay 23
  • If Williams and Stewart are the NFL's best RB combo (IMHO), then Ronnie Brown (98 total yards, 1 TD) and Ricky Williams (107 total yards) are the AFC's best rushing duo. Oh sure, the 205 combined yards and one touchdown occurred against Tampa Bay, and Brown could easily miss time with an ankle injury ... but right here, right now, there is no better fantasy tandem amongst the AFC elite. Now, if Brown actually misses games, we have to believe that Ricky can carry the rushing load; but it's fair to also wonder: Can the Dolphins sell the Wildcat with Williams taking direct snaps? Only time will tell. Time should also give us a good thumbs-up or thumbs-down on QB Chad Henne (175 yards, 1 TD); but in the meantime, he's nothing more than a backup in fantasyland. The same holds true for WR Davone Bess (4 catches, 72 yards), even though he deserves some credit for exceeding's midweek projections (shameless plug alert).

    The Buccaneers' prospects are a little more concrete: QB Josh Freeman (232 total yards, 1 TD) will one day be a fantasy force -- perhaps earlier than Sanchez, Stafford, Tebow, Bradford, Snead, Locker, etc. -- but he most certainly won't escape backup purgatory for the remainder of this season. Kellen Winslow (7 catches, 102 yards) has quickly become Freeman's go-to guy and could possibly crack the Tight End Top-5 during the fantasy-playoff weeks (Jets, Seahawks, Saints). And Cadillac Williams (52 yards, 1 TD) only holds tangible value in TD-only leagues ... or 16-teamers, like the & Friends super-conference. Other than that, try not to whine and moan too much when WR Maurice Stovall (4 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD) and RB Derrick Ward get the occasional crumb from the table. It's not like they're stealing bread from a Saints superstar.

  • Revelations, Book III
    Reggie Bush: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
    New Orleans 28, St. Louis 23
  • If Reggie Bush seems like an odd choice for Revelations coverboy -- over, say, Adrian Peterson -- allow us to explain our thinking here: Not only did Bush finish with 98 total yards and two TDs (on just eight touches), but he was singlehandedly responsible for saving yours truly's skull in a high-stakes PPR league. On a day when Pierre Thomas (82 total yards) ran more like Eric Metcalf and Marques Colston (2 catches, 17 yards) pulled a disappearing act for a second straight week, it was Bush who brought credibility to a Saints attack that looked shockingly ordinary against a one-win club. All in all, it was a decent afternoon for Drew Brees (223 passing yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs), Devery Henderson (4 catches, 72 yards) and tight end Jeremy Shockey (3 catches, 42 yards) -- but not enough production to warrant a fantasy-playoff victory. Speaking of which, the Saints take on the Falcons, Cowboys and Buccaneers from Weeks 14-16 ... so get those offers in before the trade deadlines (some of which kick in next weekend). For starters, make a play for Bush/Donald Driver, while surrendering Marion Barber or someone of that ilk.

    As for the Rams, instead of going ga-ga over Steven Jackson's 9-catch, 176-yard, 1-TD performance -- putting him just behind Chris Johnson in the pantheon of Week 10 dynamos -- we're too distracted by the following questions: Who in the heck is WR Brandon Gibson? ... And why did it take sooooo long for Donnie Avery (4 catches, 67 yards, 2 TDs) to resemble a fantasy-relevant receiver this season? For those desperate for help at the WR slot, Avery represents a slight upgrade over the bigger Gibson (7 catches, 93 yards); but then again, we'd rather have Tennessee's Justin Gage during the fantasy-playoff weeks ... broken back and all. (Writer's Note: We're aware of Marc Bulger's 305 total yards and two touchdowns, but he's still quarterbacka non grata for the foreseeable future. So please, don't go there.)

  • Green Bay 17, Dallas 7
  • Raise your hand if you had the Cowboys almost scoring fewer points (or goals) than what Team Ukraine usually gets in World Cup qualifying matches (sorry for the soccer reference -- it'll never happen again). Raise your hand if you had Tony Romo under 100 yards after three quarters. And please holler if you had Austin Miles pegged for only 4 catches/20 yards against a Packers defense that's equal parts opportunistic and submissive. Those atrocities aside, everything else was fine and dandy for a Dallas team that absolutely cannot score in key road games. The lone bright spot of the afternoon: Roy Williams caught five balls for 105 yards and one touchdown ... which only means he recorded 16-17 standard-league points (or 22 in PPRs) for your fantasy bench. D'oh!

    The Packers didn't fare much better at Lambeau ... but at least there were pockets of goodness sprinkled in with long periods of inactivity. Aaron Rodgers (204 total yards, 2 TDs) hardly lived up to his No. 1 overall ranking in standard leagues, but he's entitled to the occasional fantasy mulligan. Donald Driver (4 catches, 50 yards) and Greg Jennings (4 catches, 45 yards) were passable, as well. As for RB Ryan Grant (87 total yards), here's something to keep your hot chocolate warm Monday morning: He's a shoo-in for 120-plus total yards in Weeks 11 (San Francisco) and 12 (Detroit).

  • Cincinnati 18, Pittsburgh 12
  • When discussing the Bengals' Big Three of Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, Chad Ochocinco in glowing terms, we're essentially failing to recognize the fourth dynamic piece of the fantasy puzzle: Cincinnati's defense. Shame on us. After all, we're talking about a unit that held Ben Roethlisberger to zero TDs, 174 passing yards and a 50-percent completion rate; Rashard Mendenhall to 41 pedestrian yards and Heath Miller, Hines Ward and Mike Wallace to just nine catches and 66 yards. In fact, the only fantasy-relevant Steelers were Santonio Holmes (7 catches, 88 yards) and kicker Jeff Reed (four FGs). But who's going to complain about four field goals and no touchdowns ... in the Bengals' biggest game of the year?

    Regarding the Cincy offense, let's just write off the numbers from Palmer (178 passing yards, zero TDs), Ochocinco (2 catches, 29 yards) and Benson (22 rushing yards) and assume they'll be a fantasy force from this point forward -- especially with Pittsburgh and Baltimore cleared from the schedule. And in Benson's case (health permitting), let's assume he's a shoo-in for 450-plus yards and four touchdowns during Weeks 11-13 (Raiders, Browns, Lions). Cha-ching!

  • Washington 27, Denver 17
  • Don't let the fantasy-friendly score fool ya -- there were only four things to glean from this snoozefest: 1) Broncos WR Brandon Marshall (5 catches, 134 yards, 2 TDs) is one dangerous cat against blown coverage; 2) Redskins RB Ladell Betts (120 total yards, 1 TD) isn't dead yet, in terms of being an every-down back for someone next year; 3) I would bet my life that not one fantasy owner in the entire universe has a combination of Todd Yoder (1 catch, 2 yards, 1 TD), Mike Sellers (1 catch, 35 yards, 1 TD) and/or Redskins punter Hunter Smith (35 yards passing, 1 TD) on their roster; and thanks to renowned radio host Steve Czaban ... 4) I believe the term Zornface should become an official entry in the Merriam-Webster sports dictionary (if one exists). What is Zornface, you ask? It's when Washington coach Jim Zorn is hilariously caught on camera furrowing his brow or feigning interest in the Redskins' travails -- even though owner Daniel Snyder and personnel czar Vinny Cerrato have already stripped Zorn of play-calling duties ... thus making him a lame duck. But hey, as long as Zorn's check clears every Monday, right? HA!

    Other than those comical findings, there's nothing much to see here -- unless you believe Broncos rookie Knowshon Moreno (104 total yards) is worth moving heaven and earth before the trade deadline ... or that backup QB Chris Simms (13 yards passing, 1 TD) can sufficiently lead the Broncos offense, should Kyle Orton miss significant time to injury.

  • Minnesota 27, Detroit 10
  • You wouldn't know it by watching QB Matthew Stafford operate out of the shotgun, but the Detroit Lions actually employ a full-time quarterbacks coach (Jeff Horton). Don't get me wrong, the Lions' troubles go much deeper than some random assistant who cannot teach proper footwork; but how is Stafford -- the presumptive cornerstone of the franchise -- going to make the quick transition from lost-in-the-headlights rookie to promising whiz-kid without the proper tutoring on such a standard play? He may have an Elway-like arm and a Peyton Manning-esque Wonderlic score, but Stafford still needs to learn which way is up in the pro ranks -- especially with a club that likely leads the league in 3rd and Longs (is that even a stat?). In terms of actual production, Stafford (252 total yards, 1 TD, zero INTs in 51 attempts) remains a backup QB in fantasyland, at least until Calvin Johnson (8 catches, 84 yards) and Kevin Smith (65 total yards) re-establish themselves as stars (Calvin's getting closer) ... or until the receiving corps stops averaging six drops per game.

    In an uncertain, topsy-turvy world, it's nice to know we can still depend on the fantasy contributions of Adrian Peterson (143 total yards, 2 TDs) and Brett Favre (344 yards passing, 1 TD). It's also good to know that WR Sidney Rice (7 catches, 201 yards) has gone out of his way to prove he's not a fluke ... while nearly justifying a certain know-it-all's summertime prediction of 1,100 receiving yards. But then again, that's what fantasy stars are supposed to do against Detroit ... they're expected to expose an injury-ravaged Lions defense that must (over)compensate for a stunning lack of creativity on offense (featuring an O-line that would make a United Football League quarterback sweat). As for Peterson, it's not too late to trade for him -- as long as you're prepared to surrender your first born in the process. And even then, Owner B might need more collateral -- like the Rose Bowl Electric Football Game (with lighted stadium) that you're saving for your first born. How's that for irony?

  • Jay Clemons can be found on Twitter, day and night (@SI_JayClemons), accessing your fantasy questions and comments. You can also read his award-winning Revelations every Sunday and Monday during the NFL season.
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