November 02, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Week 8 Revelations
Brett Favre: Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Minnesota 38, Green Bay 26
  • You think Brett Favre wanted this one very much? Holy schnikes! How does a 40-year-old man, who apparently didn't work out religiously while in retirement mode, have the mental and physical capacity to throw four touchdowns against the Packers ... with the Lambeau faithful breathlessly hounding his every move? In a game that eventually lived up to the supreme hype typically reserved for Super Bowls and clashes where punts may/may not reach the Cowboys' scoreboard, Favre played the hero in one of the most compelling NFL events of the decade. But he wasn't alone -- not by a long shot. From Adrian Peterson (141 total yards, 1 TD) and Visanthe Shiancoe (one touchdown) to Percy Harvin (86 total yards, 1 TD) and Bernard Berrian (3 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD) ... it's nice to see that Minnesota has the goods to invade enemy turf and walk away with nearly 40 points. (It also helps to have a Vikings defense that can pile up six sacks.)

    Speaking of long shots, the Packers may be an afterthought in the NFC North race now, but they also unleashed the power of Greg Jennings (8 catches, 88 yards, 1 TD) in defeat. Yes, a good chunk of his catches came in borderline garbage time; and yes, his touchdown reception would never win a beauty pageant. But in a high-pressure environment, Jennings upped his fantasy value -- so much that owners should give him another week to re-prove himself before the fantasy playoffs. And that's certainly a possibility with Tampa Bay, Dallas, San Francisco and Detroit on the November docket. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, is an automatic start, unless you play in weekly leagues that only track first-half stats. Seriously, how cool was it for Rodgers (339 yards, 3 TDs) to recover from a Derek Anderson-esque start and almost vault the Pack to an unlikely victory? In hindsight, his early downfall might've stemmed from the same reason that enabled Favre to flourish, amid a cascade of boos: Rodgers simply wanted this one too much.

  • Miami 30, N.Y. Jets 25
  • If someone would have told you, before kickoff, the Dolphins would score 30 points at the raucous Meadowlands, it'd be a lock to assume Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams tallied four touchdowns, while overseeing a Wildcat-heavy attack. And yet, the paltry numbers of Brown (25 total yards), Williams (68 total yards) and QB Chad Henne (112 passing yards, 1 TD) suggest one of the weirdest scoring days in franchise history. Enter Ted Ginn, who failed to catch one pass, or run one ball out of the Wildcat but produced two kick-return TDs -- including one from 101 yards that defies explanation. Throw in a Jason Taylor fumble-return touchdown ... and you can see why every Jets fan swears his/her beloved team is cursed.

    The Jets may have lost in real-world football, but their fantasyland day was nearly flawless: QB Mark Sanchez threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns, Dustin Keller (8 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD) and Braylon Edwards (4 catches, 74 yards, 1 TD) both scored, Jerricho Cotchery (3 catches, 70 yards) flourished in his return from injury and Thomas Jones padded his MVP-like fantasy resume with 130 total yards. Sadly, the only underperformer was rookie RB Shonn Greene, who couldn't match the hype surrounding his midweek-transaction frenzy -- Think Greene, if you will -- and finished with only 18 yards. In a bit of irony, Greene may be this year's biggest Wednesday Warrior (I know of one owner who devoted 90 percent of his yearly salary cap to plucking Greene off waivers) ... but he'd likely finish second to Houston's Ryan Moats this week in free-agency bidding. That notwithstanding, this is the perfect time for Jones owners to slide right in and make a reasonable trade to secure the RB handcuff.

  • Carolina 34, Arizona 21
  • You'd be hard-pressed to recall a more irrelevant home-fantasy effort involving the Cardinals -- at least in the Kurt Warner era. The borderline Hall of Famer reached the 250-yard barrier with two touchdowns ... but also had a meltdown of Mark Sanchez-like proportions, throwing five interceptions against the Panthers, including a gift-wrapped TD to Julius Peppers. The ennui extended to Larry Fitzgerald (6 catches, 66 yards), Anquan Boldin (3 catches, 23 yards), Steve Breaston (6 catches, 57 yards, 1 shoulda-would-coulda TD) and Beanie Wells (47 rushing yards), as well, thus adding to the misery of an upset loss. But tomorrow's another day and next week's another game ... even if it involves the hot-and-cold Bears defense for Week 9. Luckily, the Cards offense tends to run hot-and-cold, too.

  • You've heard of The Accidental Tourist, the Oscar-winning flick from the 1980s, right? Well, 20-plus years later, we have The Unintentional Vulture ... starring Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart. Without taking away too much from J-Stew's 87-yard, 2-TD outing, his two scores should've been reserved for DeAngelo Williams, who scorched the Arizona defense for 158 yards -- and yet, never had time to catch his breath and patiently wait for Stewart to NOT score! (deep sigh) That aside, Carolina maximized all it could from Williams, Stewart and Steve Smith (3 catches, 56 yards, 1 TD), while getting minimal performances from its no-name supporting cast and barely tangible production from QB Jake Delhomme (97 total yards, 1 TD). But you already knew the Panthers -- Williams, Stewart, Smith aside -- are the equivalent of fantasy roadkill these days ... and nothing's going to change for the foreseeable future.

  • Tennessee 30, Jacksonville 13
  • In some respects, it makes perfect sense that Chris Johnson would set the Titans' single-game rushing record in Week 8 (228 yards). The Jaguars' run defense isn't what it used to be, and the Titans have one of the NFL's best offensive lines -- even though no one in Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Denver or Seattle could name any of the O-line starters (with the possible exception of center Kevin Mawae). It also helps that Johnson is arguably the league's fastest player ... and that Vince Young (155 total yards, 1 TD) was making his first start since Week 2 of 2008. Yes, the stars were aligned for Johnson to amass 239 yards and two touchdowns; but now comes the tricky part: Are owners trading for the Chris Johnson of Weeks 2 and 8 (523 combined yards, 5 TDs) ... or the CJ of Weeks 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 (338 total yards, zero TDs)? Either way, fantasy GMs can take comfort in Johnson's great matchups for Weeks 9 (@ SF), 10 (vs. BUF) and 11 (@ HOU).

    Regarding the Jaguars, QB David Garrard might've had the most disappointing Week 8 of any NFL player. No matter how you slice it, there's no excuse for finishing with 161 total yards, zero TDs and two INTs against a defense that bequeathed 59 points to New England -- in the snow. Along those lines, there's no justifying Mike Sims-Walker (2 catches, 9 yards) and Torry Holt's painfully ordinary production. Fortunately, the trio was obscured by Maurice Jones-Drew's 177 rushing yards (on just eight carries) and two touchdowns. It was the kind of performance that should make MJD owners pull back before the upcoming trade deadlines. Simply put, Jones-Drew is an untouchable commodity ... even if Drew Brees AND Reggie Wayne are coming back the other way.

  • Revelations, Book II
    LaDainian Tomlinson: Harry How/Getty Images
    San Diego 24, Oakland 16
  • It's impossible to address the Chargers' fantasy prospects without mentioning LaDaianian Tomlinson, directly or indirectly. As long as he's donning a powder-blue throwback and looking ticked off whenever he's pulled near the goal line, every conversation, every speculation, every random comment invariably spins back to LT. But maybe that's how things ought to be, for the San Diego players certainly seem happier when No. 21 finds the end zone -- like he did twice on Sunday. The real joy, though, should come from watching Vincent Jackson (8 catches, 103 yards, 1 TD) take another step in his rise up the WR ladder in fantasyland. Of San Diego's seven games, V-Jax has either scored or registered 120 receiving yards six times. In other words, he'll hold greater value than Anquan Boldin, Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe, Calvin Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Brandon Marshall, Chad Ochocinco and, yes, even Randy Moss for midweek trade talks ... making him the perfect candidate to land an elite-tier running back, straight up. Philip Rivers (249 passing yards, 1 TD) is a premium talent, as well, even though his numbers have crested in recent weeks. But hath no fear, for his next 350-yard passing day shall come in Week 10 when San Diego hosts Philly. (Donovan McNabb could go for 350, too!)

    The Oakland defense, in all seriousness, deserves some kudos for keeping this game close the whole way. That sounds funny when talking about an NFL team, but if you recall the Raiders' efforts against the Giants and Jets in October ... a transparent act of positive reinforcement suddenly doesn't sound so bad. However, Oakland still has light-years to go in fantasyland, as evidenced by JaMarcus Russell's 109 yards passing, Michael Bush's 41 total yards and Louis Murphy/Darrius Heyward-Bey combining for one catch. It's hard to believe any core group could be so predictably fruitless. Luckily, Justin Fargas (79 total yards, 1 TD) and Zach Miller (5 catches, 52 yards) still have value in Points Per Reception leagues -- which is no small feat, considering Russell only completed 14 passes against the Bolts.

  • Houston 31, Buffalo 10
  • Oh sure, he's no Leonardo da Vinci or Thomas Edison, but Steve Slaton deserves credit for the following invention: Vanquishing one's entire fantasy value in a single day ... WITHOUT sustaining a season-ending injury. All kidding aside, can you tell Slaton (11 total yards) has run out of free passes with the Houston coaches? After just one unforced fumble, Slaton devolved from Golden Boy to Forgotten Son with the Texans; and after backup RB Ryan Moats' 151-yard, 3-TD effort against the Bills, it's fair to wonder if Slaton can reclaim the starting gig at any point this season. As for Moats, consider him to be the Shonn Greene of Week 9, where fantasy owners inexplicably sell their souls to acquire him but aren't sure what to do with him after that. The same occurrence doesn't hold true for QB Matt Schaub (275 total yards, zero TDs) and WR Andre Johnson (6 catches, 63 yards) ... who somehow plucked respectable numbers from a subpar day for passing.

    As for the Bills, if you haven't done so already, it's time to dutifully unload RBs Marshawn Lynch (49 total yards) or Fred Jackson (28 total yards) on the trade market. The preceding statement was not a referendum on their fantasy talents, per se; but with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick helming the offense, the Buffalo running game shall command zero respect in the meantime. And it's not like Trent Edwards' eventual return will signal some kind of offensive revolution -- but it would slightly enhance the marketability of Lynch, Jackson, Terrell Owens (68 total yards, 1 TD) and Lee Evans (2 catches, 29 yards). As we stated in Clicks last week, Evans traditionally puts up good-to-great numbers in November, but he'll need a QB with an NFL-caliber arm to get the job done. Right here, right now, Fitzpatrick (117 yards, zero TDs, two INTs) doesn't possess that kind of arm.

  • Dallas 38, Seattle 17
  • If anything, the Legend of Miles Austin lives for another day or week. At the very least, Tony Romo (266 total yards, 3 TDs) has established himself as a top-5 QB in fantasyland -- when playing at home. And above all else, Roy Williams (2 catches, 19 yards, 1 TD) has dispelled the myth that he wasn't abducted by aliens and taken to another galaxy -- perhaps justifying his season-long disappearance in the Dallas passing game. Other than that, there isn't really much to glean here -- unless you can handle the sobering news that Marion Barber (51 total yards, 1 TD) and Felix Jones (69 total yards) don't warrant handcuff-starts in fantasy lineups. Twenty-four touches against Seattle. Really? Really? Thank god that $6 million experiment of converting Austin from an ordinary man into a Robo-Receiver (472 receiving yards, 5 TDs since Week 6) is paying off. Oh wait, that's a different Austin. Never mind.

    Speaking of disappearing acts ... what has become of T.J. Houshmandzadeh since his offseason cash grab? Looking at the tote board, he's had two excellent games (Weeks 4 and 5) and five stinkers, including Sunday's four-catch, 24-yard outing. In fact, his sluggishness would be even more profound if we weren't equally blown away by tight end John Carlson (3 catches, 36 yards vs. Dallas). This is precisely why second-year players should never be treated as gold on fantasy draft day -- unless we're talking about Adrian Peterson OR the new king of Crabcake Country (scroll down).

  • Baltimore 30, Denver 7
  • There is no bigger draft-day regret than waiting too long on Ravens RB Ray Rice, who justified his current top-5 RB ranking by amassing 108 yards and one touchdown against the Broncos' No. 1-ranked defense. On a cool, ugly day in Baltimore when no other playmaker posted stellar stats, Rice dominated the touches and rummaged through a Denver defense that had been air-tight in previous weeks. QB Joe Flacco (180 total yards, 1 TD) only completed 10 passes to the Ravens' big trio of Derrick Mason (4 catches, 40 yards, 1 TD), Mark Clayton (3 catches, 33 yards) and tight end Todd Heap (3 catches, 16 yards) ... but we're willing to give him a Champ Bailey-related free pass, since he's a must-start consideration from week to week. Besides, it's not like he was the lesser of two QBs on Sunday.

    That dubious honor goes to Broncos QB Kyle Orton (163 total yards, zero TDs), who needed a late fourth-quarter surge to boost his stats over the century mark, leaving fantasy owners to wonder: Is Orton the primary benefactor of playing in the horrible AFC West? Or was this simply a bad day on the range? Thankfully, we'll get some closure on that debate in Week 9, as Denver hosts Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football. Hopefully, Knowshon Moreno (35 total yards, 1 TD), Correll Buckhalter (46 total yards), Eddie Royal (1 catch, 10 yards), Tony Scheffler (1 catch, 9 yards) and Brandon Marshall (4 catches, 24 yards) will play larger roles in arguably the Game of the Week. Or maybe it'll be another lukewarm airing of Jabar Gaffney's Greatest Hits.

  • Revelations, Book III
    DeSean Jackson: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
    Philadelphia 40, N.Y. Giants 17
  • The Eagles could not have scripted a better fantasy outing against the hated Giants, especially with Brian Westbrook on the shelf: From Donovan McNabb (254 total yards, 3 TDs) and Brent Celek (4 catches, 61 yards, 1 TD) to LeSean McCoy (92 total yards, 1 TD), DeSean Jackson (3 catches, 78 yards, 1 TD) and Jeremy Maclin (4 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD) ... fantasy owners everywhere got fat and giggly off Philly's blowout win -- including members of the Weaver family who had lightly regarded Leonard Weaver (75 total yards, 1 TD) in their lineups. The way we see it, the good times should keep rolling in Week 9. Every Eagles star, Weaver aside, could hit TD paydirt against the Cowboys.

    The Giants, on the other hand, might not be so lucky in subsequent weeks. Their Sunday battle plan was eerily reminiscent to the ones from Weeks 6 and 7: Score 17-24 points and fall woefully short of victory. But there were some positives to derive from the experience, such as Eli Manning's 256 total yards/1 TD, Brandon Jacobs' 107 total yards, Steve Smith's eight catches for 68 yards and a surprising breakout from tight end Kevin Boss (3 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD). It's just not enough to predict, with confidence, a substantial turnaround next week against San Diego.

  • Indianapolis 18, San Francisco 14
  • How good are the 7-0 Colts? Peyton Manning threw for 347 yards, Reggie Wayne pulled down 12 catches for 147 yards/one TD, Joseph Addai totaled 66 yards/one TD ... and yet, fantasy owners may have been somewhat unfulfilled by the whole experience. Perhaps it had something to do with Manning's zero TDs -- only the 22nd goose egg of his career -- or the 18 points Indy racked up on a slumping San Francisco defense. Either way, the Colts deserve major props for maximizing their fantasy stars on a mediocre scoring day; they also warrant high marks for having the most bankable cast of week-in, week-out performers -- including tight end Dallas Clark (8 catches, 99 yards) and receiver Austin Collie (6 catches, 66 yards).

    On the flip side, wouldn't it be great if Frank Gore (134 total yards, 1 TD) could accelerate the development of Vernon Davis, Glen Coffee, Josh Morgan and rookie WR Michael Crabtree in one fell swoop? Yes, Davis somehow worked a touchdown into his three-catch act for 20 yards, but the peaks-and-valleys effect of three touchdowns one week ... and 20 yards the next is just too frustrating. And yes, Crabtree caught six balls for a respectable 81 yards -- against a top-notch passing defense, no less -- but someone has to become the undisputed lead dog amongst the receivers. Otherwise, Alex Smith (208 total yards, 1 TD), Shaun Hill or whichever college QB San Francisco takes in the April draft (Colt McCoy, Jake Locker, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, Jimmy Clausen, etc.) will always be doomed to fail.

  • Chicago 30, Cleveland 6
  • We could gush endlessly about Matt Forte here, but Forte's owners have bigger fish to fry this week -- for starters, deciding if he'll recapture his dominant fantasy ways down the stretch ... or if his 121 yards and two touchdowns were the byproduct of facing the sad-sack Browns. Because if the latter is true, there shall be no greater time to sell high on a tailback that was teetering on the brink of fantasy bustdom before Sunday (and yes, we made that word up). As for the other Bears, there's really nothing much to say: Jay Cutler, for once, played a supporting role to Forte and fell short of his typical 250 yards/2 TDs. Greg Olsen (3 catches, 40 yards), Johnny Knox (3 catches, 44 yards) and Earl Bennett (2 catches, 29 yards) also taught us a valuable lesson: No Chicago pass-catcher is an automatic start from this day forward -- even against the dregs of NFL society.

    Regarding the Browns ... there's no bigger indictment than the following tidbit: As of 3:38 p.m., no Cleveland receiver had registered more than one catch against a Bears defense that surrendered five touchdown passes to Carson Palmer last week. Unfortunately, the lack of a pro-style passing game (thanks, Derek Anderson) had a negative trickle-down effect with RB Jamal Lewis, who rushed for 69 solid yards but never threatened to find the end zone.

  • St. Louis 17, Detroit 10
  • Sunday's B-I-G event had been a long time coming for St. Louis fans, a long time indeed. Of course, we're talking about RB Steven Jackson (166 total yards) breaking his touchdown drought (dating back to last season) -- not necessarily the previously winless Rams defeating the equally inept Lions. But I suppose the fans of western Missouri killed two birds with one proverbial stone, eh? Speaking of central America ... there's a reason why FOX Sports only had this game shown in western Missouri and parts of mid-Michigan. There's a reason why Ron Pitts and John Lynch were assigned to handle the broadcast (for what it's worth ... they did an excellent job); and there's a reason why no fantasy owner would come within 500 feet of choosing amongst the shallow talent pool of Danny Amendola, Keenan Burton, Donnie Avery, Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt at wide receiver.

    In a nutshell, this snoozefest (Jackson aside) offered little hope for the immediate fantasy future. Yes, Matthew Stafford (172 total yards, 1 TD) will be a top-10 fantasy QB sometime around 2011 or '12, but that's assuming Calvin Johnson can remain in one piece. Bottom line: The Lions (ahem) easily boast the worst collection of wideouts/tight ends in the league -- featuring an odd mix of past-their-primers (Northcutt, Bryant Johnson), never-will-be's (John Standeford comes to mind) and precocious rookies who are universally connected by two threads: They share in-the-vicinity locker space with Calvin Johnson ... AND everyone has trouble catching Stafford's hard-but-spiralicious passes. (The FOX announcers stopped counting after seven drops.) It goes without saying: Only Smith is a regular must-start during Calvin's absence; and when he returns, it may be safe to start Johnson/Stafford in deeper leagues ... except ones that penalize the quarterback for "dropped passes by open receivers."

  • 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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