September 16, 2008
Fantasy Clicks
By Jeff Ritter
Stars Come Out On Monday Night
Marion Barber III: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Pretty good game last night, huh?

They don't get any more entertaining than the Cowboys' 41-37 free-for-all over the Eagles. Tons of points, tons of energy, tons of big plays. In fact, it was the wildest night of competition I've seen this season (even more wild than this one). If your fantasy week came down to last night's game, win or lose, at least you can say it was exciting.

A few highlights: In the second quarter Donovan McNabb hit cocky rookie receiver DeSean Jackson for a seemingly easy 61-yard TD ... but rather than complete the simple act of jogging into the end zone while carrying the football, Jackson casually flipped it behind him at the one-yard line. It was astounding. After review, Dallas was not allowed possession of Jackson's fumble because the whistle had blown, giving us our second Ed Hochuli-I-blew-my-whistle-too-early-so-I-can't-change-the-call moment in as many days, which was even more astounding.

By the way, was your fantasy week ruined by DeSean Jackson? It may be time for a support group. In fact, feel free to drop me an e-mail to vent. Next week I'll print any responses that are hilarious, yet also clean. (Odds of me getting a response that fits both criteria: slim.)

The first half fireworks: Six touchdowns, four field goals, a 30-24 Eagles lead and the second-highest scoring first half in MNF history. Other than that, nothing really happened through two quarters.

In the third, you had Marion Barber III running the ball like a maniac, T.O. doing more T.O. things and McNabb make a silly underhand flip to Brian Westbrook and a second-down scramble and improvisation.

In the fourth, the defenses finally got things somewhat under control, and Romo and Barber were able to drive the Cowboys for a decisive field goal and touchdown. More numbers: Romo finished 21-for-30, 312 yards, and two TDs to Owens. McNabb answered with a 281-yard, one TD effort. Westbrook went for 103 total yards and three scores, while Barber countered with 114 yards and two TDs.

It was a pretty magical night. Each defense/special team also managed a touchdown (the Cowboys on a Felix Jones kickoff return, the Eagles on a recovered Romo fumble in the end zone), compensating for a night when they were otherwise more or less eviscerated. Even the kickers got into the act: Nick Folk connected from 51 and 47, and David Akers hit three field goals and four extra points.

On a final note, Romo-to-T.O. is officially the closest thing you're going to find this year to Brady-to-Moss circa 2007. (Come to think of it, the Cowboys' combo was the closest thing to the Pats' duo last year, too) After Romo's first TD strike to Owens -- a 72-yarder -- TV man Tony Kornheiser exclaimed: We've got STARS here tonight." On this night, Kornheiser couldn't have been more right.

Monday Night Quick Hits

  • Donovan McNabb sure looks like his old self, doesn't he? If he can make it through the season healthy, he'll finish as a top 3 fantasy QB. Book it.
  • Right now I'd take Brian Westbrook over LaDainian Tomlinson on my fantasy roster.
  • Does anybody love Monday Night Football more than T.O.?
  • Romo made a couple silly mistakes, but even on a shaky night from their quarterback, the Cowboys' offense was simply too explosive to hold down.
  • It's still early, but -- with apologies to the Giants and Packers -- these might be the two best teams in the NFC.
  • Not sure anyone in the NFL runs harder than Marion Barber III. Can he last the season?
  • DeSean Jackson, prepare to meet the full wrath of the sports media. Skip Bayless is on Line 1.
  • Go Get 'Em

    Guys who could be available in your league and are worth adding to your roster:

    1) Darren Sproles, RB, Chargers. Look, I honestly think his Week 2 performance (155 total yards and a score) will be his best of the year . . . (cue evil music: DUN DUN DUNNNN)unless LaDainian Tomlinson's toe injury lingers. Will it? I'm not sure anyone knows at this point, including the Charger workhorse himself. That said, it's obvious Sproles is the guy every Tomlinson owner needs to grab. And if you don't own L.T., why not grab Sproles for yourself, package him, and ship him to a Tomlinson guy for a solid No. 3 back? (Ricky Williams, Fred Taylor, maybe even Jamal Lewis or Maurice Jones-Drew come to mind.)

    2) Michael Pittman, RB, Broncos. It looks like he's the goal-line back in Denver, and he's already found the end zone three times this year. He's a sneaky add now, and if anything happens to lead back Selvin Young (more thoughts on Young coming later), he just might be the main beneficiary.

    3) Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals. This just in: Edgerrin James is 30 years old, and through two games he remains healthy and upright. Whether James makes it through the season seems irrelevant; Hightower is already getting a good chunk of the carries -- and all of the goal line reps -- in Arizona.

    4) Trent Edwards, QB, Bills. Don't look now, but the Bills are frisky sleeper playoff team coming to life. Edwards went 20-for-25 for 239 yards and a score against a tough Jags' D on the road. He's a solid fantasy backup, and with a few more weeks like last one, maybe more.

    5) David Patten, WR, Saints. Five grabs for 55 yards on Sunday against the 'Skins. He's Drew Brees' most reliable target until Marques Colston comes back in a month or so.

    6) John Carlson, TE, Seahawks. Someone has to catch passes in Seattle, why not the 6-5 rookie from Notre Dame? Carlson hauled six Matt Hasselbeck throws on Sunday for 78 yards. I think his run will continue.

    The L.J. Chronicles
    Larry Johnson: WD/Icon SMI

    Those who used a second-round on Larry Johnson probably cringed at Monday's news out of Kansas City: the Chiefs' workhorse publicly stated he wants out of town at season's end. He shared carries on Sunday with Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith, and finished with 12 carries for 22 measly yards. L.J.'s rant definitely stems from the frustration of a humiliating loss to a terrible Raiders team -- but the reality is that he did share carries, and he did look awful. The time-share could be a one-game aberration, or it could be the start of a trend. In fact, this news is the perfect segue to the next section.

    Five Guys I'd Trade Away Right Now

    1) Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs. Yeah, I think this could be a trend. Whether he's angry or not is irrelevant: The L.J. of 2005-06 is gone, man. (Again, 12 carries for 22 yards against the Raiders -- the Raiders). Deal him while you can.

    2) Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. Two games, two big weeks for the Chargers' quarterback. Let's not forget: Norv Turner's teams are always run-first teams, and these have been two strange weeks in San Diego. If you can land someone like a Roethlisberger or Brees in return, go for it.

    3) Peyton Manning, QB, Colts. Peyton is just not himself; in fact, the entire Colts' offense is misfiring. Peyton will still be a solid No. 1 quarterback, however, he's not going to finish among the top three fantasy QBs this year. Read that last sentence again if you need to. If you trade him right now, you could still get a solid No. 1 RB (Barber III, Lynch) in return.

    4) Selvin Young, RB, Broncos. I'm convinced no one knows what Mike Shanahan is going to do with his running back rotation on a week-to-week basis, including Mike Shanahan. Oh, earlier I advised adding Michael Pittman, but now I'm advocating a trade of Young. Why? Stay with me: You can add Pittman off the wire for nothing, but you can trade Young for something. Replacing Young with Pittman is a wash, but the Young trade can improve your team. This is how you win fantasy titles.

    5) Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks. I've gone on record with my ominous projection for Jones' fantasy season. Does his big game against the Niners (141 total yards and a score) make me back off? Absolutely not. In fact, I'm doubling down on my bet: I say Sunday, coupled with this weekend against the Rams, will be his best two-week stretch of the year. Deal him this week (or after the Rams game) and you deal him at his apex.

    Trivia Time

    This one courtesy of my colleague Bill Trocchi: How many times during the Patriots' 21-game regular-season winning streak have they been underdogs? Scroll down for the answer.

    Schedule Watch

    Hey, know who's not very good right now? The Lions and Rams. That means it's time to start loading up on offense players who face these two floundering teams in the coming weeks. Here's five-week slate for each team:

    Week 3: at 49ers
    Week 4: BYE
    Week 5: Bears
    Week 6: at Vikings (A.D. runs for 300 yards?)
    Week 7: at Texans

    Week 3: at Seahawks
    Week 4: Bills
    Week 5: BYE
    Week 6: at Redskins
    Week 7: Cowboys (yikes)

    Toeing The Line

    Get ready for a week of speculation on the status of LaDainian Tomlinson's jammed toe. According to Rotoworld, Chargers' coach Norv Turner says L.T. is feeling better. Keep reading those reports out of San Diego this week to see how much Tomlinson practices; that'll give you the best insight into the star running back's status for Sunday.

    Trivia Answer

    The Patriots have been underdogs just three times during their 21-game regular-season winning streak: Last Sunday against the Jets, at Jacksonville in '06, and at Tennessee in '06. Maybe folks will start believing in Matt Cassel after Sunday's win. (And maybe this guy will spring for a real jersey.

    Come One, Come All

    At long last, has a fantasy football game, complete with all of the drafts, waiver wires, stats and analysis you need. Take the grand tour here and sign up a league. Heck, sign up two leagues if you want. We'll be waiting.

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