November 17, 2008
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Week 11 Revelations
Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison: Harry How/Getty Images
Indianapolis 33, Houston 27
  • The Colts' 33-point day at The Luke (like you have a better nickname for Lucas Oil Stadium) was nice to see, of course ... but it's only the tip of the iceberg, folks. At the risk of repeating myself again and again, Indy is primed to hang at least 30 on its next five opponents (@ San Diego, @ Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit) -- which means you absolutely, positively must move heaven and earth to acquire Peyton Manning (320 passing yards, 2 TDs vs. Houston), Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne (7 catches, 90 yards) and Dallas Clark (44 yards) before your respective trade deadline kicks in (if it hasn't already) ... while also hoping Marvin Harrison (9 catches, 77 yards, 1 TD) is still dangling on waivers. The biggest beneficiary of the Colts' cake fantasy-playoff schedule is Addai (153 total yards, 2 TDs), who simply won't be stopped by any defense (not even the once-vaunted Chargers) for the next two months, barring injury. Heading into Sunday's game, you might've been able to grab Addai on the relative cheap (say, for Roddy White in a 1-for-1); but now, his trade value will probably rival that of Adrian Peterson, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson. But then again, he's worth it!

    Speaking of Johnson, I'm starting to get a little worried about his rapport (or lack thereof) with backup Texans QB Sage Rosenfels. Oh sure, Sage favors AJ (4 catches, 55 yards) on quick slants as much as Matt Schaub did; but with Schaub sidelined until at least Week 14 (my own personal guess), Rosenfels is consistently forgetting about Johnson in the red zone, often locking-in on his primary read (usually Kevin Walter) while ignoring No. 80's penchant for flogging defenders down the field. And let's not forget about Steve Slaton (156 yards, 1 TD) and Ahman Green (24 total yards, 2 TDs): I know Green/Slaton mean well, but they're slowly but surely diminishing Johnson's once-unimpeachable standing as fantasyland's No. 1 pass-catcher.

  • New Orleans 30, Kansas City 20
  • The Saints, at least the Sean Payton/Drew Brees/Reggie Bush incarnation, have been anything but boring in recent years. But the team's 30-point output on Sunday, while impressive, could not have been more mundane -- so much that I found more aesthetic beauty in Raiders-Dolphins than a game where Brees (266 yards passing, 1 TD) flung the ball around 36 times. What to make of my disinterest? Maybe it had something to do with Pierre Thomas' 144-yard, 1-TD effort, just 24 hours after I dropped him from one of my eight fantasy teams. Maybe it had something to do with Marques Colston's deflating 30-yard day. Or maybe, just maybe, the whole spectacle was anti-climactic, given the broken promise of Bush's return from injury.

    As for the Chiefs ... I just love how fantasy pundits everywhere are now hailing Tyler Thigpen's coming-of-age play, as if he had been preordained for fantasy greatness wayyyyyy back in September. OK, now that I've gotten that mini-rant out of the way, at what point do the so-called experts start deifying Dwayne Bowe (7 catches, 53 yards, 2 TDs) as perhaps the AFC West's best fantasy pass-catcher (eclipsing Brandon Marshall, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Chaz Schillens -- sic)? Last but not least, how about Larry Johnson's 87-yard comeback game? It's better than I expected, yardage-wise ... but I pegged LJ as a lock for the end zone against the Saints (which never happened). I'm going to stay consistent on this issue: Johnson, when in the right frame of mind, can be the difference-maker in your quest for a fantasy title this year. Go get him!

  • Green Bay 37, Chicago 3
  • Strange but true: This week, I offered an owner a 3-for-1 blockbuster trade -- surrendering Ryan Grant, Steve Breaston and Brandon Marshall for Bears RB Matt Forte. (He never answered the trade, yay or nay) On the surface, this seems like a sweetheart deal for the other guy, especially after Grant's 151-yard, 1-TD day at Lambeau, his sixth consecutive game of 75 yards or more (three TDs in that span). Here's another factoid that I should've considered before sending the offer (admittedly in desperation): Of the Packers' next five games (@ New Orleans, Carolina, Houston, @ Jacksonville, @ Chicago), only the Panthers -- and maybe the Bears -- have a good shot at slowing down Grant. As for his teammates ... there's still time to stealthily "buy low" with Greg Jennings (5 catches, 64 yards, 1 TD) this week -- if you accept the premise that Aaron Rodgers throws tight, accurate spirals in blustery weather; and Donald Driver would make an excellent WR-flex option in Week 14 vs. Houston (fantasy playoffs begin).

    Regarding the Bears ... there's nothing to say about any player not named Forte (104 total yards vs. Green Bay). In standard-scoring leagues, Forte has the trade value of Brian Westbrook or Joseph Addai. And in PPR leagues, I'd covet Forte over LaDainian Tomlinson, Bush (due to his injury) and Steven Jackson (walking wounded), just a notch below of Clinton Portis, Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore. No matter how you slice it, that's some elite company.

  • Pittsburgh 11, San Diego 10
  • I would never spotlight an 11-10 game in the first book of Revelations unless it involved a once-in-a-lifetime fantasy moment -- or, in my case, a once-in-a-lifetime moment that was too good to be true. Did you catch the last seven seconds of this snow-filled, wind-swept, um, classic? The Steelers defense nearly provided one of my PPR teams (Count Chocula's Henchmen) with the most unlikely scoring gift anyone could ever receive -- courtesy of Troy Polamalu's TD-recovery of an errant San Diego lateral as the clock reached :00. But, as it was determined through instant replay, Troy's touchdown was nullified earlier by an illegal pass, rendering his return moot (although the refs may have misinterpreted their ruling). In the moments between Troy's TD and its eventual dismissal, roughly 4 1/2 minutes, I went from whooping like a sweepstakes winner and forgiving the fantasy gods for every time they've wronged me in the past ... to staring blankly at the TV, for minutes on end, trying to process the unprecedented turn of events. Oh, the humanity!

    Regarding the rest of the action ... LT (97 total yards, 1 TD) would make an excellent addition to your team during the playoffs -- but only as an RB2; thank god Philip Rivers (159 passing yards, 2 INTs) plays in a warm-weather city; Vincent Jackson (2 catches, 25 yards) is persona non grata in the Clemons household this week; Willie Parker (129 total yards in his debut) is a must-start for all owners in Week 12; Hines Ward (11 catches, 124 yards) should never be doubted again -- even if he's playing with one arm and no digits ... and what good is Ben Roethlisberger (308 yards passing) in fantasyland if he's not throwing TDs?

  • Revelations, Book II
    Jonathan Stewart: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
    Carolina 31, Detroit 22
  • OK, so Jonathan Stewart (134 total yards, 1 TD) and DeAngelo Williams (120 yards, 2 TDs) did wonders to their trade-market value this week, simply because they faced the Lions (the gift that keeps on giving). But what now? Where does the pair go from here? I like Williams as a RB2 (785 rushing yards, 6 TDs this season) in Weeks 12 (@ Atlanta) and 15 (Denver), but Stewart isn't much of a "lock" for 110 yards/1 TD from this point on, except maybe the Broncos in Week 15. As for the Lions ... yes, they're really bad in real-world football; but you could do worse than the redoubtable tandem of rookie RB Kevin Smith (135 total yards, 1 TD) and burgeoning all-pro Calvin Johnson (70 yards, 1 TD). Calvin's numbers, by the way, could've been even better -- if the Lions coaches had the gumption to try a jump-ball-like pass to the end zone, at close range, just seconds before halftime (instead, they kicked an early field goal). You know, for a winless team, the Lions don't really embody that "nothing-to-lose/go-for-broke" attitude that most rebuilding clubs possess ... which may explain why they're starting a 31-year-old QB (Daunte Culpepper) with no long-term prospects.

  • Tampa Bay 19, Minnesota 13
  • Stop me if you've heard this one before (thanks, Morrissey): Jeff Garcia surpassed the 250-yard mark again for the Bucs but also failed to pass for two scores. Stop me if you've heard this one before, part two: Gus Frerotte distributed the football to eight different receivers on Sunday ... and yet none of 'em finished with more than three catches or 50 receiving yards. Ah, but here's something you haven't heard in a while: Adrian Peterson (85 rushing yards) will make it through this season unscathed, while also capturing the NFL rushing title! (In fantasyspeak, that's code for go "move heaven and earth to trade for him.")

  • Tennessee 24, Jacksonville 14
  • There are two schools of fantasyland thought on Titans wide receiver Justin Gage, in the wake of his 4-catch, 147-yard, 2-TD day against the Jags: 1) Sunday's performance, albeit at an all-world caliber, shouldn't be a total shock since Gage was targeted 10 times (while scoring once) against the Bears in Week 10; or 2) Gage's TD catches were mainly the result of horrible coverage by the Jacksonville secondary. Regardless of the answer (I'm leaning toward No. 1), Gage will undoubtedly be the top WR grabbed off waivers this week, given his newfound potential and easy-cheesy schedule from Week 12-15 (N.Y. Jets, @ Detroit, Cleveland, @ Houston).

  • Denver 24, Atlanta 20
  • If you're in the mood for something bold, and your trade deadline has yet to pass, how about shipping Michael Turner or Brandon Marshall to another team? Don't get me wrong, I love the potential and production that Turner and Marshall provide every week; but I also have a gut feeling they'll both post pedestrian numbers from this point on, based on Turner's difficult schedule (Carolina, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Minnesota) and Marshall's recent penchant for coasting (he hasn't surprassed the 100-yard mark since Week 3). From coasting to cruising ... do you know that Falcons WR Roddy White (5 catches, 102 yards vs. Denver) has eclipsed the century mark five times since Week 3, scoring six touchdowns in that span? And yet, if a fantasy redraft were held today, I guarantee you Marshall would be taken 1-2 rounds higher than the anonymous Mr. White.

  • Miami 17, Oakland 15
  • Your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse probably views the fantasyland life as some hedonistic escape (read: built-in Sunday excuse) from housework or visiting the in-laws; but that doesn't mean the experience is all fun and games ... all the time, either. Take Saturday night for example: I begrudgingly called Ronnie Brown's agent with the grim news that Ronnie was no longer an automatic start in my one Fanball league -- due to Ryan Grant's steady re-emergence. Brown (through the agent, of course) was then given an ultimatum of 110 yards and/or 1 TD against the Raiders or else. So how did it turn out? Brown finished with 112 total yards ... numbers that seemingly earned him a Week 12 start. But ay, here's the rub: In this cold-hearted business, I suddenly have to be "the bad guy" and bench Brown in favor of the white-hot Grant (151 total yards, 1 TD vs. Chicago) from here on out -- or at least until Grant cools down. It just goes to show you ... there really is no loyalty in pro sports anymore.

  • Now ... before I proceed any further, I'm obviously kidding about everything in the above graph. I don't know Brown's agent; and even if I did, he certainly wouldn't field any self-serving, fantasy-fueled, ultimatum-spewing phone calls, either. Truth be told, I'm just stalling a little bit, trying to find a delicate way to say: Only a fantasy dolt would start a Raider right now (including Darren McFadden), unless you're tanking this season to get next year's No. 1 pick.

    Moving on ...
    Quick-Hitting Revelations
    Frank Gore: AP
  • San Francisco 35, St. Louis 16: Call me a skeptic if you will, but RB Frank Gore could throw a 25-yard TD pass to himself this season (minus the defensive deflection) ... and at the end of the day, my greatest 49ers memories from '08 would still be Mike Singletary's deliciously nonsensical rant after his head-coaching debut and the team's goal-line meltdown in the waning seconds against Arizona in Week 10. But guess what? Through all the drama and hilarious growing pains, I truly believe the Niners are primed to be the next great fantasy/real-world team -- starting with Gore (114 total yards, 2 TDs on Sunday), QB Shaun Hill (and not J.T. O'Sullivan) and ending with pass-catchers Josh Morgan, Jason Hill and tight end Vernon Davis. Of course, it'd help if offensive coordinator "Mad" Mike Martz was still running the show in '09.

  • Dallas 14, Washington 10: Per usual, I could take the Cowboys' fantasy doings in a million different ways ... but let's focus on the only player with insane trade value right now -- Marion Barber (143 total yards, 1 TD). If you absolutely need Barber's high-level production to guarantee a fantasy-playoff slot, by all means keep him, start him and ride that wave into the postseason, as he should run wild against San Francisco and Seattle in the next two weeks. However, if you've already clinched a playoff berth, and your trade deadline hasn't passed yet, I urge you to "Sell high, very high" on a guy who faces a gauntlet of punishing run defenses in Weeks 14 (@ Pittsburgh), 15 (N.Y. Giants) and 16 (Baltimore).

  • N.Y. Giants 30, Baltimore 10: Speaking of the Giants and Ravens ... outside of Kryptonite and the sight of an Auburn depth chart, circa 2003, I don't think anything on earth can stop Brandon Jacobs from finding the end zone right now. On second thought, let's hope that knee injury is nothing more than an annoying tweak, twist or wrench. Regarding Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason (7 catches, 82 yards) ... he'd be the very definition of "underrated flex gold" in PPR leagues during the fantasy-playoff weeks.

  • Arizona 26, Seattle 20: Question time -- Has any QB in NFL history ever thrown for 395 yards in a game where his team never trailed? Methinks Cards QB Kurt Warner (just 1 TD on Sunday) is the only one to accomplish the feat. I'm also willing to bet that Anquan Boldin (13 catches for 186 yards) and Larry Fitzgerald (10 catches for 151 yards) are absolute untouchables in trade talks this week -- even if the other owner is offering a combination of Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

  • Cincinnati 13, Philadelphia 13 (OT): Speaking of McNabb (339 yards, 1 TD), Westbrook (71 total yards) and Housh (12 catches, 149 yards, 1 TD) ... I wonder if each stud remembers the famous scene from Back To The Future, when Marty (played by Michael J. Fox) and Lorraine (his mother, played by Lea Thompson) awkwardly kiss in the parking lot, moments before the "Enchantment Under The Sea" dance ... and just seconds before Biff (played by Thomas F. Wilson -- not Goldie) paid them a visit. Anyway ... during the fateful kiss, Lorraine dives in to lock lips before quickly retreating; and then with a quizzical, dear-in-the-headlights look, she says: "No offense, Marty, but when I'm kissing you, it feels like I just played the Cincinnati Bengals."

    Twenty-three years later ... I finally understand the line.
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