November 09, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Week 9 Revelations
Josh Freeman: J. Meric/Getty Images
Tampa Bay 38, Green Bay 28
  • Whoever coined the phrase, Fashion is cyclical, never had to wear a leisure suit or a paisley-inspired Nehru jacket from the 1970s (thankfully, I missed that era of high fashion). But that's not to say all clothes from the 'Me' decade were without redeeming value: Take the Buccaneers' retro-chic creamsicle uniforms, which were on full display Sunday at The New Sombrero (thanks, Chris Berman). After seeing the Errol Flynn-like helmet decals and the very-basic "T A M P A B A Y" lettering in both end zones, you had the strange feeling the 0-7 Bucs would actually rise up and party like it was 1979 (when Tampa Bay won its first division title). Enter Josh Freeman (225 total yards, 3 TDs), who -- if nothing else -- captured the award for "Best Fantasy Debut By A 1st-Round Quarterback" (beating out Mark Sanchez/Matthew Stafford) while leading the Bucs to perhaps the most exciting comeback victory of the year. Now for the bad news: Freeman remains a young, untested, unpolished and erratic rookie QB and doesn't deserve a Week 10 start at Miami -- even if you're jonesing for the QB-TE handcuff with Kellen Winslow (4 catches, 57 yards, 1 TD) in standard-scoring leagues ... the QB-RB handcuff with Derrick Ward (59 total yards, 1 TD) in PPR leagues or the QB-WR handcuff with Antonio Bryant in "M*A*S*H" leagues. Quick -- someone think of a good Hawkeye joke (and not one that involves Northwestern)!

    As for the Packers, there's really nothing much to say: QB Aaron Rodgers (292 total yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs) is on his way to becoming the best fantasyland QB to flame out in real-world football. Running back Ryan Grant (96 rushing yards, 1 TD) looks every bit the part of a conservative Round 2 pick in the August drafts. Donald Driver (4 catches, 71 yards, 1 TD) has officially surpassed Greg Jennings (5 catches, 61 yards) as Green Bay's best receiver (for this year, at least) and James Jones (4 catches, 103 yards, 1 TD) has finally earned the right to NOT be mocked when claimed off waivers. Outside of that, we're staring at another Green Bay club that looks sweet on paper but simply cannot finish during crunch time. Thankfully, that's not a major concern in fantasyland.

  • New England 27, Miami 17
  • Care to guess how many fantasy leagues were won/lost solely off Randy Moss' 71-yard TD catch/run in the third quarter? Yes, just when it seemed like Moss was headed for a pedestrian 5-catch, 85-yard outing against the Dolphins, BOOM! ... he's running to daylight down the left side and capping a 6-catch, 147-yard, 1-TD extravaganza. But hey, that's fantasy football, in a nutshell. Luckily, Tom Brady (332 yards passing, 1 TD), Wes Welker (9 catches, 84 yards) and Laurence Maroney (82 rushing yards, 1 TD) didn't pull any last-gasp surprises -- they just finished with typical rock-solid stats. The same could not be said about Sam Aiken (2 catches, 17 yards), aka the "Waiver-Wire It" receiver leading up to Week 9. Lesson learned, people: If being a New England receiver was enough to merit fantasy-gold status ... then Joey Galloway would have been playing in Gillette Stadium on Sunday -- instead of sitting home and presumably counting his millions.

    Regarding the Dolphins, isn't it funny how a team's fantasy numbers can seem underwhelming when NOT artificially boosted by multiple Ted Ginn, Jr. kick-return touchdowns? To call Miami's Sunday effort "satisfactory" would be an insult to the guy/gal who invented RC Cola (it beats Shasta) ... and to call it "horrible" would be a tad hyper-critical, as well. So, let's just find a happy medium when saying the fantasy work of Chad Henne (219 yards passing, zero TDs), Ronnie Brown (65 total yards, 1 TD pass), Ricky Wiliams (36 total yards) and Ginn (1 catch, 7 yards) was just enough to prevent us from napping through the Lions-Seahawks pregame show.

  • Seattle 32, Detroit 20
  • There are two ways to interpret Matt Hasselbeck's 51 pass attempts: The eternal optimist would point out that six playmakers -- Julius Jones, Nate Burleson, Justin Forsett, John Carlson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Justin Griffith -- caught at least five passes, thus contributing to Hasselbeck's 77 percent completion rate. The negative person would be incredulous over Hasselbeck's lone TD pass (Houshmandzadeh) against perhaps the NFL's worst pass defense. Frankly, we're going to side with the pessimists here -- especially since Seattle trailed 17-0 early on and its ground attack only produced 55 yards and one score (Jones). Looking at the numbers, Hasselbeck had more attempts, completions and passing yards than Kurt Warner for Week 9 -- and yet finished with half the fantasy points. That spells doom for Hasselbeck during the fantasy playoffs, with the possible exception of Week 15 (vs. Tampa Bay).

    On the flip side ... we're not going to go overboard on Lions QB Matthew Stafford (203 yards, 2 TDs) and his five interceptions; after all, even borderline Hall of Famers (like Warner) throw five picks every now and then. However, that one fourth-quarter, jump-ball interception to Calvin Johnson was an absolute travesty, perhaps the worst pass of any NFL quarterback all season. If anything, it reminded us that Stafford is still 4-5 weeks away from being emergency-start relevant. Stafford's teammates had a mixed fantasy day, as well, starting with Calvin (2 catches, 27 yards), Kevin Smith (76 total yards) and WR Bryant Johnson (2 catches, 35 yards, 1 TD). The only reliable source of goodness was Brandon Pettigrew (7 catches, 70 yards) ... and he's only worth starting in 14- or 16-team leagues. One last thing about Calvin: Every receiver, even all-world talents, deserves a grace period when coming back from injury; so, we're extending a one-week free pass, on the assumption/hope of 6 catches/75 yards/1 TD in Week 10 against Minnesota.

  • Indianapolis 20, Houston 17
  • You know who's out of free passes? Texans WR Kevin Walter. Oh sure, he finished with a respectable five catches for 67 yards (11 points in PPR leagues). But with three-fourths of the Colts secondary sidelined due to injury -- and Andre Johnson (10 catches, 103 yards) commanding double-teams -- he missed a golden opportunity to eradicate a potential lost season with one big afternoon. Instead, we're finally ready to pull the plug on his dime-a-dozen act. Speaking of mediocre ... is anyone really suprised that Steve Slaton and Ryan Moats combined for only 82 yards on 28 touches? Do the math ... that's 2.92 yards per touch! Thank god they scored short touchdowns to compensate for the lack of production. More importantly, thank god we traded 'em away last Wednesday -- before the migraines started kicking in.

    Regarding the Colts, we'd love to give RB Joseph Addai (112 total yards, 2 TDs) full credit for his five catches, but the Texans were just wayyyyy too accommodating against the pass -- especially in the red zone. Did you see how open Addai was at times? It was almost as if the Houston players and coaches were completely blinded by the sunsphere that engulfs LucasOil Stadium between the hours of 11:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m. ... and couldn't find their bearings in time to make a short-yardage tackle. Speaking of the sunsphere, the CBS announcing crew of Kevin Harlan/Solomon Wilcots offered a juicy little nugget during the game, saying that Indy intentionally steers clear of the sun-drenched areas on pass plays. It's too bad Houston didn't know that. Otherwise, Peyton Manning (one TD) wouldn't have cracked the 300-yard-passing mark again ... and maybe tight end Dallas Clark (14 catches, 119 yards) wouldn't have set a modern-day PPR record for most fantasy points WITHOUT scoring a touchdown.

  • Revelations, Book II
    Kurt Warner: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    Arizona 41, Chicago 21
  • There's no way of getting around it: You're either damned if you do OR damned if you don't start Kurt Warner on any given Sunday. Home or away? Doesn't matter. Sunshine or rain? Makes no difference. Coming off a five-interception meltdown ... or after dissecting the Bears for five touchdowns? There's just no way of knowing which Kurt you'll get from week to week. In light of this revelation (no pun intended), we've come to realize the pain of not rubber-stamp starting Warner is far less agonizing than the notion of leaving him on the bench. Luckily, there's never a downside to starting Larry Fitzgerald (9 catches, 123 yards, 2 TDs) on a regular basis, along with Steve Breaston (91 total yards, 1 TD) -- whenever Anquan Boldin is sidelined to injury. In fact, for PPR owners, there's a good chance you'll be starting Breaston up until Week 17. Thanks to the scheduling gods, the Cardinals don't have any cold-weather games left on the docket, making Warner, Fitzgerald, Breaston, Tim Hightower (88 total yards), Beanie Wells (72 rushing yards) and Boldin (if healthy) all coveted commodities on the trade market. Go get 'em now!

    Regarding the Bears, this would be a prime example of how garbage time can positively affect one's fantasy standing. Look at the results: Jay Cutler with 386 total yards and three TDs? Devin Hester and Earl Bennett combining for 13 catches and 187 receiving yards? Matt Forte racking up 111 total yards on just 11 touches? Thank goodness for blowouts, eh? Tight end Greg Olsen (5 catches, 71 yards, 3 TDs) also got some juice from garbage time, but we're willing to give him credit for initially deadlocking the score at 7 ... before Arizona rattled off something like 27 unanswered points. Either way, Chicago's playmaking core is looking pretty, pretty good! on the trade market right now, which is a good thing for owners who've already taken a gander at the Bears' difficult slate during the fantasy-playoff weeks (Green Bay, Baltimore, Minnesota).

  • San Diego 21, N.Y. Giants 20
  • Is there any reason NOT to expect Vincent Jackson catching two touchdowns in every game from this point forward? Obviously, we know that'll never happen, given the sheer implausibility of 32 TD receptions per year ... but it's easy to dream it when watching V-Jax demoralize the Giants with a last-second, game-winning score (his second of the afternoon). Without a doubt, Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald are the NFL's best red-zone receiving options (sorry, Calvin Johnson) ... and without a doubt (again), Jackson's worth sacrificing your entire bench depth to acquire, via trade. Unfortunately, LaDainian Tomlinson has little or no trade value down the stretch, citing two air-tight reasons: 1) His 20-yard output from Sunday has become all too familiar in the last two months, and 2) The Chargers have no more games against the Raiders.

    On the flip side, the Giants came through with a predictable, yet productive outing, which speaks to their fantasy bankability. From Eli Manning (215 passing yards, 2 TDs) and RB Ahmad Bradshaw (66 total yards) to WRs Steve Smith (8 catches, 57 yards, 1 TD) and Mario Manningham (6 catches, 52 yards) ... the whole day brought a measure of fantasy goodness to the masses. We do have one complaint, though: How does Brandon Jacobs (68 total yards) only warrant 12 touches in a nip-and-tuck affair? How is he not toting the rock at least 25 times, regardless of weather? It's enough to drive Jacobs' owners batty, especially those without enough ammo to find a RB upgrade, via trade.

  • Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16
  • The Cowboys may be branded as America's Team, but they're kind of boring in fantasy circles -- especially on the road. Seriously, does anyone really care about the welfare of Miles Austin (1 catch, 49 yards, 1 TD), Jason Witten (7 catches, 43 yards, 1 game-winning first down) and Marion Barber (70 total yards) away from the field? And is it just me, or is Dallas less fun to watch without the threat of its punter accidentally hitting a giant scoreboard, built in the likeness of Jerry Jones' rec room at home? Heck, even Tony Romo can be a flat-liner after throwing for 307 yards/1 TD. (Yawn)

    The Eagles, come to think of it, didn't light the fantasy world on fire, either. Aside from LeSean McCoy's 115 total yards ... there was absolutely nothing to glean from the experience -- which is why we're handing out mulligans to Donovan McNabb (227 yards, 1 TD), DeSean Jackson (2 catches, 29 yards), Jeremy Maclin (3 catches, 44 yards) ... and shifting the focus back to Dallas, and Roy Williams, in particular.

    Maybe Williams (5 catches, 75 yards) should proclaim himself to be the Cowboys' No. 1 receiver every week. Perhaps his lack of media-driven candor -- and not a noticeable decline in atheltic grace -- stands as the true reason for just 14 catches entering Sunday's clash. Whatever the case, he certainly brought sidebar comic relief to a game that had virtually no spark at all.

  • New Orleans 30, Carolina 20
  • It would be an interesting sociological experiment for next year -- or at the very least, great fodder for Morgan Spurlock's next 30 Days/Supersize Me documentary: Drafting/starting nothing but Saints in a competitive 14-team league and making the playoffs with no outside assistance. Can it be done? Probably not. But after looking at Sunday's numbers against the Panthers -- on the same day when Marques Colston (1 catch, 45 yards) and Drew Brees (334 total yards, 1 TD) were just OK -- in walks WR Robert Meachem (5 catches, 98 yards, 1 TD), WR Devery Henderson (3 catches, 93 yards), PK John Carney (3 FGs, 3 PATs) and RB Pierre Thomas (81 total yards, 1 TD). (We didn't even mention Reggie Bush's 13 points in PPR leagues!) Put it all together, and it reinforces why the above Saints are all must-haves in fantasyland from this point forward: For the most part, they're better than your guys -- even on marginal days.

    The Saints may have better across-the-board talent than the Panthers ... but DeAngelo Williams takes a backseat to no one in fantasy circles. With each passing game, one gets the inescapable feeling that D-Will (161 total yards, 2 TDs on Sunday) will win the touchdown crown amongst running backs. And at bare minimum, he seems like a lock to finish top-5 in yards from scrimmage. All this begs the question: What's it going to take for you to finally swing a blockbuster deal here ... likely surrendering three solid starters for Williams? And if three solid regulars isn't enough to consummate a deal, you can always sweeten Owner B's offer with a free Big Mac -- every day until Dec. 9!

  • Revelations, Book III
    Chris Johnson: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
    Tennessee 34, San Francisco 27
  • We could gush on endlessly about how Titans WR Justin Gage (4 catches, 97 yards) is thisclose to a fantasy breakout of epic proportions -- perhaps coinciding with his club's ambitious plan to finish 10-6 after starting 0-6 -- but only touchdowns feed the bulldog at the top of Revelations ... which brings us to the immortal Chris Johnson (160 total yards, 2 TDs): Will the last person who still believes LenDale White has any fantasy value, especially in goal-line situations, please turn the lights off? Seriously, does anyone realize the Titans ran only 54 offensive plays, while possessing the ball for 26-plus minutes, and still claimed victory No. 2 going away? Part of the glory goes to QB Vince Young (186 total yards, zero INTs), the Titans defense (4 turnovers, 3 sacks, 1 touchdown) ... but the rest goes to Johnson, a one-man wrecking crew with an eminently doable playoff-schedule in Weeks 14-16 (St. Louis, Miam, San Diego -- all at home).

    The 49ers, for what it's worth, actually have a deeper cast of playmakers at their disposal. From Frank Gore (158 total yards, 1 TD) and TE Vernon Davis (10 catches, 102 yards) to WRs Michael Crabtree (3 catches, 30 yards) and Jason Hill (4 catches, 50 yards, 2 TDs), this club is oozing with fantasyland and real-world potential. Of course, the only must-start consideration remains Gore -- and that includes the fantasy-playoff periods of Week 14 (vs. Arizona) and 16 (vs. Detroit). In fact, can you just picture Gore singlehandedly carrying owners to a fantasy title on Dec. 27, as a direct result of destroying the Lions? It oughta be enough to make one forget about getting tube socks for Christmas just two days earlier.

  • Atlanta 31, Washington 17
  • Here's a (somehwat) comforting thought for Roddy White owners: In the next five years, in a game that Atlanta scores 31 points or more ... we guarantee White will NEVER finish with numbers worse than Sunday's effort against the Redskins (3 catches, 27 yards). Unfortunately, that does jack squat for present-minded owners who were banking on Roddy to have a huge game against ex-teammate and noted hothead DeAngelo Hall. But at least White came away from the experience relatively unscathed ... unlike Clinton Portis (head contusion), Jason Campbell (236 total yards, 1 TD -- chest contusion) and Santana Moss (countless bumps and bruises). As if the Redskins weren't already imploding with their stars intact, they look even worse when trotting out random no-names from the bench. Rock Cartwright? Todd Yoder? Mike Sellers? These guys have absolute-zero value in fantasyland. On the other hand, Ladell Betts (93 total yards, 1 TD) is definitely worth a waiver-wire bid -- regardless of how Portis (4 carries, 4 measly yards) recovers from his latest malady.

    From the weary Portis, we subtly transition to the all-powerful Michael Turner, who bullrushed his way through the Washington defense for 180 total yards (166 rushing) and two touchdowns. Remember those reports of Turner being slow and out of shape -- from two weeks ago? Well, after 317 total yards and three scores -- against two respectable defenses -- it's safe to say Turner shall remain a top-7 star from this point forward. And with a fantasy-playoff schedule that includes home dates with New Orleans and Buffalo ... owners should already be moving heaven and earth to land him before the trade-deadline period of Thanksgiving Week.

  • Cincinnati 17, Baltimore 7
  • In the blink of an eye, the once-prodigious Ravens have devolved into the equivalent of fantasy roadkill -- except for RB Ray Rice (137 total yards, 1 TD), who remains in the discussion for Fantasy MVP ... despite the gaping hole in recent production from his Baltimore 'mates. Seriously, how is Rice still a threat for 150 total yards/1 TD, now that Willis McGahee, WR Derrick Mason (3 catches, 31 yards), TE Todd Heap (3 catches, 28 yards) and QB Joe Flacco (three sub-200-yard outings in his last four games) have fallen off the radar? As good as Rice has been this season (1,009 yards/6 TDs), we're entering a code-red phase here: Do owners hope and pray for his regular fantasy goodness ... or sell high on a back whose club could potentially have seven bad-weather games between now and Week 16? At the very least, it wouldn't hurt to throw a trial balloon out to the masses, since Rice could easily fetch a WR1/RB2 in return, as part of a 2-for-1 swap.

    For a 6-2 club playing in arguably the NFL's toughest division, the Bengals really only have three fantasy stars: Cedric Benson became the first running back in perhaps the entire Ray Lewis era to rush for 100 yards in back-to-back meetings against the Ravens (or something like that). Chad Ochocinco (5 catches, 66 yards) had a a solid day in PPR leagues; and Carson Palmer (224 yards passing, 1 TD) didn't come close to sniffing five TDs (his Week 7 output) -- although no one thought he'd duplicate that feat again. So, what does this mean for December? For 12- or 14-team leagues, Palmer, Benson and Ocho shall remain must-start considerations every week -- including next Sunday's grudge match with Pittsburgh. Maybe Carson will even throw four touchdowns.

  • Jacksonville 24, Kansas City 21
  • Prior to this game, IF someone had asked what Lance Long, Rashad Jennings and Chris Chambers have in common ... invariably, someone would have screamed "Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?" -- an obvious nod to Cliff Clavin's hilarious guest-appearance on "Jeopardy" in a classic Cheers episode. And while the Clavin-esque response would technically be correct ... the REAL answer is that all three played a major role in making this game surprisingly interesting -- at least for the TV viewers in central Missouri and northern Florida. For future sake, Long (8 catches, 74 yards for Kansas City) and Jennings (1 rushing TD) possess zero fantasy value; but Chambers, who was unceremoniously dumped by the Chargers last week, showed up out of nowhere to catch three balls for 70 yards and two TDs. Wow ... just think of the damage he'll do upon learning the Chiefs' playbook!

    The game's bankable stars had decent-to-great days, as well: Matt Cassel (265 total yards, 2 TDs) edged David Garrard (293 yards, 1 TD) in the competitive QB derby; Maurice Jones-Drew (134 total yards, 1 TD) topped Jamaal Charles (55 total yards) in the RB battle; and Mike Sims-Walker (6 catches, 147 yards, 1 TD) used the game of his life to outshine Dwayne Bowe (4 catches, 74 yards). Funny thing about Sims-Walker/Bowe: Yours truly dealt both wideouts in a 2-for-1 swap with guru Scott Wraight this week ( & Friends fantasy league) ... for the right to watch Calvin Johnson limp up and down the field against Seattle -- all the while telling people, "Come to think of it, Calvin's never been in my kitchen either."

  • 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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