October 27, 2008
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Week 8 Revelations
Drew Brees: Nick Laham/Getty Images
New Orleans 37, San Diego 32
  • Before I break down the runaway winner for Fantasy Game O' The Day ... allow me to say that I regret nothing in advising the Clicks audience to stay away from QBs Drew Brees and Philip Rivers (along with Marques Colston and, to some degree, L.T.) -- if it rained in London on Sunday (which happened) and the Wembley Stadium field, or pitch was a slippery, soggy mess (which was also the case). Yes, I was blissfully aware that Brees (who was unceremoniously run out of San Diego because of Rivers' presence) had the Chargers game circled on his proverbial calendar all the way back to 2006 -- when he signed with New Orleans as a free agent. Yes, I knew both teams were sagging at 3-4 and desperate to get back on track. And yes, I'm sure NFL officials gave a pregame pep talk on Saturday night, imploring the teams to do their darndest to thrill the European fans with an Arena League-style version of American futbol. And yet, I thought the mud and grub of the Wembley field would serve as the great neutralizer to Brees and Rivers -- arguably the two best QBs in fantasyland this season. Well, I freely admit that I was wrong; but at the same time, I would probably have made the same mistake again and again ... because cruddy weather should never be underestimated in fantasy football -- it's as simple as that. Now, on with the show ...

    What more can I say about Rivers (341 yards, 3 TDs) and Brees (339 yards, 3 TDs)? They have consistently delighted fantasy owners all year, and yet Sunday's sterling duel might have been the coup de grace -- which deflates me to no end, since I started 49ers QB J.T. O'Sullivan over Brees in one of my eight fantasy leagues (yes, due to weather concerns -- in any other city, under any other conditions, I would have given Saints-Chargers my highest recommendation). The other stars came out for The Game Across The Pond, as well, with LaDainian Tomlinson (170 yards, 1 TD), TE Antonio Gates (96 yards, 1 TD) and Vincent Jackson (60 yards, 1 TD) posting big numbers for San Diego and Deuce McAllister (85 total yards, 1 TD), WR Lance Moore (90 yards, 1 TD) and TE Billy Miller (7 catches, 82 yards) capably filling in for the injured Reggie Bush. All in all, the game represented the perfect union of real-life drama and fantasy goodness -- unless you fell prey to the kavorka that is J.T. O'Sullivan.

  • Houston 35, Cincinnati 6
  • I may have whiffed on the Brees-Rivers call ... but there's no disputing my clairvoyancy with Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. In my favorite PPR league, I boldly started both Texans receivers against a decent Bengals pass defense -- primarily out of bye-week necessity but also by playing a hunch they'd flourish in Houston's third straight home game. The result: AJ was his usual unstoppable self, catching 11 balls for 143 yards, while Walter stole the show with five catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Of course, QB Matt Schaub played a heavy-handed role in that success, throwing for 280 yards and three scores on Sunday. He's been on a tear of late, amassing 1,237 passing yards and 10 TDs in his last four starts -- with Houston going 3-1 in those games.

    As for the Bengals, what's it going to take for you to trade T.J. Houshmandzadeh (55 total yards on Sunday) this week -- thus getting a reasonably high return on a sagging commodity? Do I have to personally send a daily E-alert to your work email address, reminding you of how Chad Johnson's owners were too slow to dump him prior to Carson Palmer's elbow injury? ... and now Ocho Cinco has the approximate fantasy value of Syndric Steptoe. Or would you care for a "candygram" instead -- like this old-school gem from Saturday Night Live -- alerting you to how Housh (only 3 TDs in '08) has broken the coveted century-mark in receiving yards just once this season? Because I'll do anything -- anything! -- that'll help you unload Housh for Steve Slaton (66 total yards, 1 TD vs. Cincy) and Rams WR Donnie Avery, as part of a devilish 2-for-1 swap. In other words, help me ... help you!

  • New England 23, St. Louis 16
  • Speaking of Avery ... the Rams may have encountered a short-term setback in losing to the Patriots, but, in the process, they also found their receiving star for the next decade. Avery looked every bit the part of Torry Holt, circa 2000-05, by carving up the New England secondary for six catches and 163 yards -- highlighted by the 69-yard TD in the first quarter, Marc Bulger's longest TD pass of his career. Avery, the first WR taken in last April's NFL draft, is a devastating talent right now ... meaning fantasy owners should move heaven and earth to grab him off waivers this week -- even if it comes at the expense of dumping a long-in-the-tooth pass-catcher, like Torry Holt, circa 2008.

  • Regarding the Patriots, I love Matt Cassel's rapport with stud receivers Randy Moss (7 catches, 102 yards on Sunday) and Wes Welker (7 catches, 79 yards), even if this symbiosis doesn't always translate into multiple-TD days (like Sunday). With eight weeks left in the fantasy season (playoffs included), I can confidently recommend Moss and Welker as "must-start" options for at least six games ... which means Cassel, at the very least, would make an excellent spot-starter or injury replacement for your fantasy team, without hurting your championship dreams.

  • N.Y. Jets 28, Kansas City 24
    If your particular fantasy league doesn't subtract points for interceptions, you could probably care less that Brett Favre was an equal-opportunity QB on Sunday, completing 28 passes for two scores to his Jets teammates ... and completing three passes for one score to the opponent. But that's the inherent beauty of fantasy football: Every time a Favre INT goes to the house for six points, it simply means that Favre (290 passing yards vs. the Chiefs) is one PAT, one network TV timeout and one kickoff away from getting the ball again. As for the Chiefs ... I'm not ready to commit to the Tyler Thigpen Experiment just yet, despite his 300-yard, 2-TD day (including 20 rushing yards) and even though he's blessed with a superhuman trio of fantasy playmakers in Dwayne Bowe (102 yards on Sunday), Tony Gonzalez (79 yards, 1 TD) and Larry Johnson (currently serving back-to-back suspensions). But I will say this: Thigpen and the Chiefs face three easy-cheesy pass defenses during the fantasy playoff slots of Weeks 14 (@ Denver), 15 (San Diego) and 16 (Miami). He'd make an excellent emergency starter in Week 15, if Drew Brees encounters 50-mph winds in the Saints' lone cold-weather game this season (against Chicago).

    Revelations, Book II
    Steve Smith: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
    Carolina 27, Arizona 23
  • I could take Cardinals-Panthers in a million different directions -- like going ga-ga over DeAngelo Williams' 123-yard, 1-TD day ... or praising QBs Kurt Warner (381 yards, 3 TDs) and Jake Delhomme (280 yards, 2 TDs) for a job well done ... or condemning Muhsin Muhammad for dropping the easiest TD catch he'll ever see. Instead, I'll just thank my lucky stars that Steve Smith, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and even Steve Breaston (9 catches, 91 yards) had remarkable receiving days, justifying my bold predictions from Friday's Clicks. After a rocky start, the quartet gave Sunday Ticket viewers just-cause to flip away from Chargers-Saints or even Redskins-Lions (for those who live for Brian Billick's insightful, engaging quips), racking up 30 combined catches for 386 yards and four TDs. It goes without saying: If you neglected to draft Smith this year (based on his two-game suspension for Weeks 1 and 2 -- something I begged you to ignore), or dropped Breaston from your roster upon Boldin's return from injury (broken sinus membrane) ... I hope you're stewing over what might have been, while shouting "Why did I ever believe in Roy Williams?" to no one in particular.

  • Dallas 13, Tampa Bay 9
  • Speaking of old Roy -- the Cowboys receiver, not the injured safety -- I will, of course, give him props for hauling in a jump-ball-pass for a TD on Sunday. But c'mon ... two catches for 10 yards? That's only two more receptions and 10 more receiving yards than I posted in Week 8 -- and I won't count as a $9 million cap charge (or something to that effect) against the Dallas salary cap for the next five years. The Cowboys' other $9 million pass-catcher, Terrell Owens, fared slightly better than Williams, catching five harmless balls for 33 yards, his third straight week of pedestrian stats. Like my Houshmandzadeh plea from above, I am begging you to explore all T.O. trade avenues this week, especially if you're in the market for a prime running back and a receiver who -- perish the thought -- actually performs on a week-to-week basis. I respect T.O.'s Hall of Fame-like body of work lo these many years; but right here, right now, his fantasyland stock value peaked about six weeks ago. As for the Bucs ... if there was a fantasy category that rewarded QBs for completing four or less passes to 10 or more players, Jeff Garcia would be the redoubtable No. 1 draft pick each season. But until that day, I will simply weep in your general direction for starting Garcia over Delhomme or Jason Campbell on Sunday.

  • Washington 25, Detroit 17
  • Continuing our long, strange trip through Segue-ville (not to be confused Sevierville, Tenn.), Jason Campbell owes a good chunk of his fantasy goodness (328 yards, 1 TD) to Santana Moss (9 catches, 140 yards) ... and the sad-sack Lions defense. How dominant was Moss (two touchdowns -- one receiving, one punt return) against the Lions? Do you remember that great scene from Blazing Saddles, when the sheriff kidnaps himself in an effort to avoid the angry townspeople? Well, that's how the Lions probably felt when dealing with Moss: They were powerless to stop him, even though he was zig-zagging around the field and singlehandedly busting every tackle, without the aid of many key Redskins blocks. As for the Lions ... there is no certifiable excuse for Calvin Johnson only catching four balls (for 57 yards, 1 TD) in a game. Even if an in-his-prime Jerry Rice -- and not Mike Furrey or Shaun McDonald -- was running pass routes on the opposite side.

  • Seattle 34, San Francisco 13
  • Note to QB Seneca Wallace (222 yards passing, 2 TDs) and RB Leonard Weaver (129 total yards, 2 TDs): I realize you guys had career days on Sunday, the kind of performances that journeyman players only see once in a blue moon -- if ever. But when looking back at this game in January, I'll likely recall only three things:

    1. J.T. O'Sullivan getting benched the same day I started him over Drew Brees
    2. Frank Gore working his tail off to collect 159 total yards, while Vernon Davis was busy being the NFL's least-talented "diva" of all time
    3. Interim head coach Mike Singletary's delicious tirade (largely calling out Davis, by the way) in the postgame presser
  • Quick-Hitting Revelations
    Brian Westbrook: AP
  • Philadelphia 27, Atlanta 14: If you knew Brian Westbrook would earn 28 touches against the Falcons on Sunday -- as opposed to Correll Buckhalter's meager six -- while nursing a bad ankle and broken ribs ... then I have two follow-up questions:

    Why didn't you share this prized information with me last week, via SI mail?
    And, on a totally unrelated note, if it's no trouble at all ... would you mind revealing the six main numbers ?- along with the all-important Gold ball -- for Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot drawing in Georgia (and surrounding states)?

    All kidding aside, if Westbrook (209 total yards, 2 TDs vs. Atlanta) can remain healthy the rest of the season (and that's a big IF), he may possess Adrian Peterson- or Clinton Portis-like trade value in the coming weeks ... or perhaps yield one stud RB (like Matt Forte) and one all-world WR (like Reggie Wayne), as part of a 2-for-1 swap. But then again, Mr. or Ms. Soothsayer, you already knew I was going to suggest that, right?

  • Miami 25, Buffalo 16: It's way too early to pinpoint exactly "What's Next for Ted Ginn" -- not to be confused with actor Ted McGinley -- following his out-of-nowhere day of seven catches for 175 yards against the AFC East-leading Bills. But I can predict who'll greatly benefit from Ginn's newfound fame in NFL circles: Greg Camarillo, the Dolphins' leading receiver. Camarillo (372 yards, 1 TD this season) has a Wes Welker-like zest for catching a ton of intermediate passes ... and he'll be granted even more freedom to roam underneath, now that Ginn's down-the-field presence should command the attention of a linebacker and safety on every pass play.

  • N.Y. Giants 21, Pittsburgh 14: This was a classic "Yeah ... but" game in fantasyland. Yeah, Brandon Jacobs logged the majority of carries (18 for 47 yards) again for the Giants on Sunday ... but it's becoming crystal clear that Derrick Ward (80 total yards) has emerged as BJ's equal, in terms of volume of touches and red-zone opportunities. Or ... yeah, Mewelde Moore (94 total yards, 1 TD) looked great as the Steelers' primary ball carrier ... but fantasy owners have absolutely no chance of "selling high" on the mighty-mite Moore (four TDs in his last two games) -- as long as Willie Parker remains just one healthy practice away from reclaiming his RB top spot.

  • Baltimore 29, Oakland 10 : I know the Ravens have reached the 27-point mark three times this season -- all wins, by the way. But I'm still not sure how they're doing it, outside of Willis McGahee (58 rushing yards, 1 TD on Sunday) making like Cards rookie Tim Hightower and scoring on every goal-line carry. Conversely, I know the Raiders have scored 14 or fewer points three times this season ?- all losses, by the way. But I'm just not sure how they're doing it. Oh wait, maybe it has something to do with Chaz Schillens (3 catches, 76 yards) leading all Raiders backs and receivers in yardage for the day.

  • Cleveland 23, Jacksonville 17 : Even someone with Mr. Magoo-like vision would never confuse smallish Redskins WR Santana Moss with oversized Jags WR Matt Jones. And yet Jones, in the waning seconds of Jacksonville's heartbreaking home loss, was one very-catchable, jump-ball-like TD opportunity away from equaling Moss' 9-catch, 140-yard, 2-TD effort on Sunday. Instead, the embattled wunderkind had to settle for pulling down eight catches for 117 yards and one score -- in yet another stirring chapter depicting Jones' transformation from good college QB to dominant pro pass-catcher. FYI: There's still a 50-50 chance of plucking him off your league's waiver wire.
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