November 03, 2008
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Week 9 Revelations
Brandon Jacobs: Al Bello/Getty Images
N.Y. Giants 35, Dallas 14
  • Oh to be a fly on the wall that fateful day last spring when the Cowboys executive team, led by owner/GM/concessionaire Jerry Jones, took a gander at the club's 2008 roster and figured they were knee-deep in championship-level talent at all positions -- including the backup-QB slots. Oh sure, the Cowboys' problems run far deeper than Brad Johnson (71 passing yards, 0 TDs) or Brooks Bollinger (63 passing yards, 1 TD) ... but the team's stunning drop-off in play since Tony Romo's injury has left me speechless (or something close to that). How bad are things in Big D these days? Terrell Owens (5 catches, 36 yards, 1 TD) stands as the clear-cut fantasy winner from a humiliating loss to a division foe.

    Speaking of the Giants, I'm a little disheartened by the underwhelming impact of the receiving corps -- with Plaxico Burress (34 yards) taking home top, ahem, honors on Sunday. But then again, what's not to like about Eli Manning's three TD passes ... or Brandon Jacobs' 117 rushing yards and one score ... or even Derrick Ward's 89-yard, 1-TD effort? Ward may be the No. 2 Giants rusher ... but he's also a solid flex-starting option in 10- to 12-team fantasy leagues from this point forward.

  • Arizona 34, St. Louis 13
  • Mark it down, kids. Week 9 ... the precise time where Tim Hightower may have emerged as the Cards' primary back -- and not just a lead-pipe-cinch option around the goal line. Hightower was a beast against the Rams, rushing for 109 yards and one touchdown. But you get the feeling any other team -- aside from the pass-happy Cards -- could've easily milked 200 yards and two scores out of the rookie runner ... who reminds one of Maurice Jones-Drew circa 2006, his rookie season -- except that Hightower has more TDs (seven in his first eight games).

    Regarding the Rams, let's talk the good, the bad and the ugly. For starters, I correctly pinpointed Torry Holt (6 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD) for a breakout week -- even though he's probably a lost cause come fantasy-playoff time. I was cautiously optimistic (but oh-so wrong) that rookie WR Donnie Avery (three catches for 26 yards on Sunday) would produce stellar numbers for a third consecutive week. But I could never have imagined that Steven Jackson would be a fantasy dog (17 rushing yards) ... against the Cards ... and after he had promised to be a devastating force in the NFC West Game of the Year (as sad as that sounds).

  • Tampa Bay 30, Kansas City 27 OT
  • I realize the Chiefs are 1-7 and limping toward the finish line without Larry Johnson. But at least their train-wreck-of-a-season has yielded some fantasy entertainment, specifically the rapid development of RB Jamaal Charles (106 rushing yards) and QB Tyler Thigpen (223 total yards, 2 TDs). Slowly, but surely, I'm beginning to think Kansas City's massive overhaul (which should include Dwayne Bowe -- but not necessarily LJ and Tony Gonzalez) may bear fruit -- sooner than later.

    As for the Buccaneers ... the team may be riding high at 6-3, but I still cannot endorse anyone -- aside from Antonio Bryant (8 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD vs. KC) -- as a week-to-week starting option or even playoff-time hidden gem. Sure, QB Jeff Garcia has thrown for at least 220 yards in his last three games; but he has yet to toss two touchdowns in any start this year. Yikes!

  • Baltimore 37, Cleveland 27
  • Care to hear an interesting factoid? Only eight Ravens (including QB Joe Flacco and LB Terrell Suggs -- but excluding RB Willis McGahee) touched the ball on Sunday, and yet, Baltimore had little trouble racking up 37 points in its surprising road victory. So, unless you started Flacco (as a bye-week or injury replacement) or the enigmatic Derrick Mason (9 catches, 136 yards, 1 TD), there's a decent chance the Ravens' big-scoring day yielded zero fantasy points for your team. On the Browns' side, it's a good thing Braylon Edwards (4 catches, 86 yards, 1 TD) brought his A-game to the party ... otherwise we'd spend more time here harping on the pedestrian outings from Derek Anderson (219 yards, 2 TDs), Kellen Winslow (64 yards) and Jamal Lewis (62 total yards).

  • Revelations, Book II
    Chris Johnson: Red Brown/Getty Images
    Tennessee 19, Green Bay 16 OT
  • Leave it to the Packers and Titans to bring fantasy goodness to the masses, despite only tallying 35 combined points. From the incomparable Chris Johnson (161 total yards, 1 TD) and fuel-efficient LenDale White (77 rushing yards on only eight carries) to Aaron Rodgers (325 total yards, 1 TD) and Donald Driver (7 catches, 136 yards, 1 TD), fantasy owners likely came away with a smile from the day's events ... at least until the Raiders-Falcons game began.

  • Atlanta 24, Oakland 0
  • I could spend valuable Revelations space here lamenting the lameness of the Raiders and their 77 net yards; but I'm too tired to find a ray of light in this once-proud franchise's worst offensive showing in 47 years. Instead, let's focus on the Falcons -- which now boast five fantasy-friendly playmakers (QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, WR Roddy White, kicker Jason Elam and the Atlanta defense). From this point forward, I can endorse starting Ryan (220 yards, 2 TDs vs. Oakland) in every game except Week 15 (against Tampa Bay), while Turner (139 rushing yards), White, Elam and the Falcons D/ST would serve you well just about every Sunday. But for the love of Peter, Paul and Mary ... don't get sucked into the supposed fantasy goodness of WR Michael Jenkins (2 catches, 64 yards, 2 TDs on Sunday) -- it's a trap!

  • Philadelphia 26, Seattle 7
  • I find it impossible to gauge Donovan McNabb's value from week to week. Yes, on the whole, he is undoubtedly a top-10 QB in fantasyland. But man, oh man ... the mood swings! On Friday, I predicted doom-and-gloom for D-McNabb in Week 9 -- not because of Seattle's defense, but because I figured Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter would go hog-wild on the ground (like three-TDs). Turns out, Westbrook was held reasonably in check (96 total yards) and Buckhalter was head-scratchingly nonexistent (8 total yards), paving the way for McNabb's 349 passing yards and two TDs, while hitting 10 different receivers on the day (11, if you count the Seahawks' lone INT). As for Seattle ... every offensive playmaker can now be classified as "fantasy roadkill" until further notice.

  • Cincinnati 21, Jacksonville 19
  • If you were among the 1 percent of fantasy owners who drafted Chad Johnson and kept starting him through eight painful weeks, purely out of brand-name loyalty ... congratulations, your patience (read: insanity) finally paid off in the form of two touchdowns against the Jaguars. But ay, here's the rub for the remaining 99 percent of Ocho Cinco owners: Does his five-catch, 37-yard, two-TD day signify a significant turnaround the rest of the way ... or was CJ's fantasy-friendly afternoon more representative of the Blind Squirrel Syndrome? Thank god I don't own Chad in any of my eight fantasy leagues ... because I would loathe to make that call in Weeks 14, 15 and 16.

  • N.Y. Jets 26, Buffalo 17
  • Aside from Thomas Jones' amazing graces (6 catches, 107 total yards, 1 TD), this one offered zero fantasy value ... which leads me to wonder about the down-the-road viability of QBs Brett Favre (201 yards passing, 0 TDs) and Trent Edwards (289 yards passing, 1 TD). Come Weeks 14, 15, 16 (aka the fantasy playoffs), the Bills are almost certain to face poor weather conditions in two of the three games ... with maybe a weather reprieve Week 16 at Denver. Favre's Jets have a slightly better outlook with a Week 14 game at San Francisco and Week 16 tilt at Seattle; but still, the 39-year-old wunderkind has lost a good chunk of cachet of late, throwing for only 877 yards (219 per game) and three TDs in his last four weeks. In other words: I sincerely hope you're not expecting Favre or Edwards to carry your team to a fantasy title.
  • Quick-Hitting Revelations
    Adrian Peterson: AP
  • Minnesota 28, Houston 21: Call me crazy (and you will upon hearing this) ... but, if given the choice, I would rather have Gus Frerotte as my QB1 over Brett Favre, Trent Edwards or Jason Campbell during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16). Not only has Frerotte grown accustomed to his role as the Vikings' redoubtable starter (throwing for at least 200 yards or 2 TDs in every start) ... but he also has the luxury of playing three straight December games indoors (Week 14 @ Detroit; Week 15 @ Arizona; Week 16 @ home). And for good measure, he'll have Adrian Peterson (139 yards, 1 TD vs. Houston) and Bernard Berrian (2 catches, 104 yards, 1 TD) at his full-time disposal, health permitting. Regarding the Texans ... it might behoove Matt Schaub's owners to add Sage Rosenfels (224 yards, 1 TD on Sunday) as a QB3 this week -- especially if you were planning to start Schaub during the fantasy playoffs.

  • Indianapolis 18, New England 15: I don't know what to make of four big-name pass catchers -- Marvin Harrison (50 yards), Dallas Clark (63 yards), Reggie Wayne (65 yards) and Randy Moss (65 yards) -- posting such pedestrian numbers in a high-profile TV game (the kind where John Madden actually shows up). Maybe the Colts and Patriots are no longer dependable juggernauts on a weekly basis? Or maybe, just maybe the NFL Network, which has seemingly been running the 2006 AFC title game on a continuous loop the last five days, should stop televising that Pats-Colts classic ... giving fantasy owners the wrong impression about their high-profile, but medium-production talent.

  • Miami 26, Denver 17: Hmmm ... it appears I might've been wrong to dump Dolphins WR (and Wes Welker clone) Greg Camarillo (11 catches for 111 yards vs. Denver) last week in my favorite PPR league. And it appears I really missed the boat in maximizing Brandon Marshall's trade value (in the same league). Two catches for 24 yards ... really? And six (by my count) dropped balls ... really?

  • Chicago 27, Detroit 23: Need a homework assignment for the week? Try getting all your fantasy ducks in a row, in hopes of landing Calvin Johnson and/or Matt Forte, via trade. Johnson (8 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD vs. Chicago) has established himself as a reliable threat for 90 yards and 1 TD every week -- making him the perfect WR2 in 10- to 12-team leagues; and Forte simply cannot be stopped by any team -- at least the ones left on the Bears' docket. Here's one more little nugget of enticement: Both Calvin and Forte (131 total yards vs. Detroit) get a crack at the Saints' suspect defense during the fantasy-playoff weeks.
  • How'd We Do?

    The other day, I offered specific predictions for Week 9 -- some pure gold and others that flopped worse than Men Behaving Badly, the short-lived NBC sitcom from 1996-97 that starred Rob Schneider, Ron Eldard and Justine Bateman, aka "Mallory Keaton" of Family Ties fame. (To be fair, this show "killed," to use a comedy term, in its first year -- but sagged big-time in Year 2 after Eldard and Bateman begged their way off the show.) Here's a rundown of things so far:

    RB Locks For 120 Yards and/or 2 TDs
    1. Chris Johnson (161 total yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
    2. Earnest Graham (91 total yards -- good guess, but wrong)
    3. Jamal Lewis (62 total yards -- wrong)
    4. Matt Forte (131 total yards, 0 TDs -- correct!)
    5. Maurice Jones-Drew(62 total TDs, 1 TD -- correct!)
    6. Adrian Peterson(139 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
    7. Marion Barber(42 total yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
    8. Brian Westbrook (96 total yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
    9. Brandon Jacobs (117 total yards, 1 TD -- correct!)

    QB Locks For 275 Yards and/or 3 TDs
    1. Derek Anderson (227 total yards, 2 TDs -- wrong)
    2. Eli Manning (147 yards, 3 TDs -- correct!)
    3. Peyton Manning (254 yards, 2 TDs -- oh-so-close, but wrong)
    4. Trent Edwards (289 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
    5. Kurt Warner (340 total yards, 2 TDs -- correct!)
    6. Jay Cutler (307 yards, 2 TDs -- correct!)
    7. Marc Bulger (218 total yards, 2 TDs -- good guess, but wrong)

    Five Highest-Scoring Games -- Week 9
    1. Arizona @ St. Louis (47 points -- wrong)
    2. Miami @ Denver (43 points -- wrong)
    3. Houston @ Minnesota (49 points -- correct!)
    4. N.Y. Jets @ Buffalo (43 points -- wrong)
    5. New England @ Indianapolis (33 points -- wrong)

    WR Locks For 120 Yards and/or 1 TD
    1. Larry Fitzgerald (6 catches, 81 yards, 0 TDs -- good guess, but wrong)
    2. Torry Holt (6 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
    3. Lee Evans (4 catches, 41 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
    4. Brandon Marshall (2 catches, 27 yards -- wrong)
    5. Reggie Wayne (5 catches, 65 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
    6. Greg Jennings (3 catches, 79 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
    7. Braylon Edwards (4 catches, 86 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
    8. Plaxico Burress (3 catches, 34 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
    9. Calvin Johnson (8 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)

    Five Unsung Players Who'll Score 1 TD
    1. WR Steve Breaston (2 catches, 39 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
    2. WR Domenick Hixon (DNP ... or at least I hope that explains the double goose egg -- wrong)
    3. TE Alex Smith (2 catches, 12 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
    4. RB Jerious Norwood (83 total yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
    5. WR Brandon Lloyd (see Hixon's rationalization from above -- wrong)

    Before I Take My Vacation ...

    I wanted to list some high-wire-act "Locks" for Week 10:

    **WR Andre Johnson will start up another 10-catch streak vs. Cincinnati
    **The reeling Jaguars will lose to a winless club for the second straight week (Cincy in Week 9; Detroit in Week 10)
    **Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart will tally 2 TDs against Oakland
    **Seahawks RB Julius Jones will score a TD in the "Wildcat" formation against Miami (how ironic!)
    **Cards QB Kurt Warner will throw for 4 TDs against San Francisco, paving the way ...
    ** ... For another memorable post-game tirade from 49ers head coach Mike Singletary. But this time, his media rant will focus on why he sent star RB Frank Gore to the showers immediately after losing the pre-game coin toss.

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