Sunday, December 5, 2010

BCS+ Update: What Would Have Been

Rose Bowl
Oregon - Wisconsin

Sugar Bowl
Auburn - TCU

Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech - Stanford

Cotton Bowl
UConn - Ohio State

Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma - Arkansas

This year it ends up with de facto semi final, as no matter the result, it's tough to see the Sugar and Rose winners not advancing to the championship. A one-loss Wisconsin isn't going to get passed after beating Oregon, and a win over Auburn would completely legitimize Texas Christian.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Week 11 Prospecting

Bears +1.5 over Dolphins

Raiders +9 over Steelers

Chargers -10.5 over Broncos

Song of the Week

Arthur Alexander - Anna

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Week 10 Prospecting

Texans +1.5 over Jags

Bears +1 over Vikings

Colts -7 over Bengals

Bucs -6.5 over Panthers

Titans -2 over Dolphins

Song of the Week
Sanchez - If I Ever Fall
a reggae cover of the greatest r&b song of the 90s? sign me up

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Super Bowl Prospecting

Quick look at the current odds for Super Bowl Winners, trying to find some hidden gems.

Sucker Bets
Pats +675
Ravens +875
Falcons +1100

Fair Play(well for Vegas)
Packers +850
Giants +875
Steelers +875
Jets +1000
Saints +1400

Decent Bets
Colts +1075

Longshots with Legs
Chargers +2000
Titans +2200

Longshots No Legs
Chiefs +2800
Eagles +2800
Vikings +5500
Bears +7500
Dolphins +7500(maybe a few legs)

Hidden Gems(It could happen)
Texans +8500

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Week 9 Prospecting

Saints -7 over Panthers

Bears -3 over Bills

Colts +3 over Eagles

Packers -8 over Cowboys

Steelers -4.5 over Bengals

Dolphins +5.5 over Ravens

Song of the Week

Chairmen of the Board - Gimme Just a Little More Time

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mondays Minings

There really isn't much to say at this point in the season, big pickups are done. You are pretty much locked in with what you have. In any case I have updated matchup rankings, and a new feature as we follow the college season under what would happen under BCS+.

Matchup Rankings
Once again, these are the best and worst teams to send your running backs against.

Buffalo Bills

Arizona Cardinals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Detroit Lions

St Louis Rams
Jacksonville Jaguars
Dallas Cowboys(seem like a different team post-Romo, disregarding previous results here)

Denver Broncos
New Orleans Saints
Cincinnati Bengals
Indianapolis Colts
Carolina Panthers

New England Patriots
Oakland Raiders
Cleveland Browns
San Francisco 49ers

Washington Redskins
Philadelphia Eagles

Atlanta Falcons
Seattle Seahawks
Baltimore Ravens
Houston Texans
Kansas City Chiefs
Minnesota Vikings

San Diego Chargers
Tennessee Titans

Chicago Bears
New York Giants
Miami Dolphins

Green Bay Packers

Pittsburgh Steelers

BCS+ Update

Right now, The Utah-TCU winner will have a date with Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, as long as noone is upset. Boise State needs a loss to control their destiny, as of now, they would likely face a one-loss, Big 12 champ in the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon has the inside track to the Rose Bowl and the national title. Of course a lot changes with even a single loss by one of these teams. Auburn still has to play Alabama and the SEC championship.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Week 8 Prospecting

Miami -1 over Cincinnati
Cmon vegas, you can do better than this

Green Bay +6 over New York Jets
too many points here

San Diego -4 over Tennessee
chargers have to win big sometime right. this feels like the week

St Louis - 3 over Carolina
Panthers had their moment last week, now they can get back to being the worst team in the league

Detroit -.5 over Washington
one of those games where vegas is begging the public to take washington. i'll side with the house.

Song of the Week
Third World - Committed

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mondays Minings

What We Learned Chiefs-Jaguars
Not to take the Chiefs and their gaudy record too seriously. Last week, the Jags were dominated by the Titans at home. At home this week, where they supposedly have one of the best home field advantages, they played a poor Jacksonville team even until the last 5 minutes. Sure, they ran over the Jags, but Cassel did nothing outside of some poor throws that Dwayne Bowe turned into touchdowns. The continued split of carries means that its rare when you can start either Charles or Jones. Against Denver you can easily start both, but in most weeks I would hope to have a better option.

What We Learned Falcons Bengals
Bengals: Bad. Falcons: Mediocre. Michael Turner: Good play against bad defenses but not the first round pick many though he was, too slow. Roddy White: Alongside Andre Johnson as most talented receiver, if not always the best fantasy play. Cedric Benson: Not getting the help he needs, from his defense or quarterback. TO: Not a fluke, playing much better than last year. Will get lots of looks in quasi-garbage time.

What We Learned Steelers-Dolphins
That refs should not be allowed to do games involving their hometown teams. Why can't this be a principle. They do it in World Cup. While rarely would it actually affect games, why are we chancing this. The glee in which that Roethlisberger touchdown was incorrectly was called was barely restrained at best. If they treat this like the tuck rule, it means the end of scrums, since it apparently no longer matters who comes out of it with the ball. Sadly, this is the end of the season in Miami.

Quick Hits
After the first few possessions, it seemed as if Heimerdinger had read what I wrote last week. The first two running plays I saw were a step in the right direction although the line is still laying like garbage, such that I was salivating over the blocking schemes the Vikings were using Sunday night.
Not that it mattered after the performance from Woo Woo Kenny Britt, but without occasionally creating a hole, the Titans will be pressed to defeat better teams.
Browns over Saints was a mild upset at best. Anyone that thought the Saints were still elite going into this game didn't watch the first 5 weeks.
Sand Francisco is officially bad. Bottom 5 bad. This week's performance is just about par. No surprise for for the worst team to beat the 4th worst team by 3 at home.
Bottom 5: Carolina, Denver, Arizona, San Francisco, Buffalo.
Gettis might be a nice flier in deep leagues, but I can't see starting him. He put up 125 against one of the worst defenses in the league. Won't see this good a matchup again.
Now can we stop pretending Baltimore defense is good. It's been obvious since week 2.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's wrong with CJ2K?

Now at first it may sound strange to think something is wrong with a running back that stands second in the league in rushing yards and fantasy points. But compared to last year his yards/carry is down and after watching every snap, all is not right in the Tennessee backfield.

1. Defense
Defenses are keying on Chris Johnson. Not exactly a surprise, but they are doing a very good job of containing him by blocking his path to the edge.

2. Playcalling
The Titans are playing right into the defense's hand. Over and over again, they simply hand the ball off to him in the middle of the field. I never see a pulling guard leading the way to the edge. I never see Vince Young move out of the pocket and swing it to Johnson on the edge. Every play, Johnson ends up sitting in the middle with no hole to run to and the edges covered.

3. Trying to break one
CJ set some pretty lofty goals for himself and he has been clearly aiming to take each carry to the bank. Now, with the aforementioned problems, this leads to the back sitting in the backfield looking for a place to go that just isn't there. By ignoring potential 4-5 yard gains, he hurts himself in the end. The big runs will be there if he runs hard and lets them happen, like he did last year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Perfect BCS Solution

Briefly, this is a +1 solution. I'm going to call it BCS+. In essence we would return to a more traditional bowl alignment, then use the BCS system to select the contestants for the national title game after their completion. I am prompted to post this because of Lou Holtz's comments in favor of this type of system on Mike and Mike this week. However, there are a few wrinkles that make it better, enough that I think it worthwhile to put this online. Before setting out the solution, we have to consider what we are actually looking for. The college football arena is complex, with many moving parts that need to be satisfied.

Bowl Games

First, we need to preserve the bowls as meaningful competitions. They are a tradition, they are money-makers they are important to alumni and various factions. We need a system that not only preserves them, but increases their importance. Currently, each bowl game is an also-ran to the national championship. Under a tournament, the name would survive, but by seeding entries as 1-8 or 1-4 matchups, little else would. Under BCS+ each of the big 5 bowls would serve as a showcase for teams that still had a chance at the title game. We want to see a traditional Rose Bowl every year. Some years, it would be a de facto semi-final. Other years, one of the teams would be earning a spot with their opponent playing the role of spoiler. Some other year, both would be playing with an outside shot at reaching the title game. No matter what, there is a traditional Rose Bowl, and almost always, there are title implications. I've singled out the Rose Bowl because it has the most tradition, but I find it just as meaningful in this system for the SEC champ to host the Sugar Bowl every year.

Helping the Little Guys

There is a lot of interest, especially among the casual fan, in giving a shot to the Utah's and the Boise States. (Not to mention potential anti-trust suits.) We don't want an undefeated Boise State left out in the dark, but we don't want to hand a spot in the title game to a team with a soft schedule. What we want is to see that undefeated team play their way in against a big conference champion. Now I'll concede a tournament satisfies this objective just as well, but this system does significantly increase their chances. There would have to be at least 5 undefeated teams at the end for someone to be denied a shot. Might that happen on occasion, yes but a look at previous seasons shows it would be rare. Currently, a Boise State can be looked over for a one-loss big conference team. In this system, where an undefeated Boise State would be matchup up against one of the top 4 teams automatically in a major bowl game, they would receive the boost both in human polls and computer rankings to lift them to the title game if they won.

Creating Buzz

This is secretly the most important factor in my opinion. The best selling point is the controversy it creates. You want sports analysts yelling at another about who deserves to be in. You want various scenarios that need to be dissected on ESPN endlessly. You want a situation where a late season upset results in a ripple effect changing multiple bowl games and scenarios. This is important, this is where a tournament fails, and this is where the BCS+ excels above all others.

Major Conferences

The major conferences are an important part of the puzzle so the system must accommodate them in some way. BCS+ gives them everything they have now, an automatic bid for its conference champion. In addition, by offering an additional chance for undefeateds to lose, one-loss conference champions are right in the mix.

Every Game Counts

We don't want to lose the situation where a September loss means something. The best part about college football to some is that a loss can really cost you and a second lost knocks you out of the title chase. Under a tournament, one loss means you are still in for the highly-ranked preseason teams. Unlike every other sport, every game truly matters in college football. We want Oklahoma's season to be on the line against Texas, not just their playoff seed. Under BCS+, a USC team that two games during the season, won a parity-filled PAC 10 than upset an undefeated Big Ten champ in the Rose Bowl, would likely be deservedly shut out of the NC game.


Now, may people claim this argument is a false one, but regardless, this system changes nothing from the current one in terms of student-athletes missing classes. Two teams would play a week beyond New Years Day, exactly as they do now.

Tournament Proponents

This also gives something to the tournament proponents. It is not a true tournament but it is closer than what we have now. As discussed above, it also maintains the integrity of the bowls, gives more of a chance to the small schools and more often than any other solution, provides a great national championship matchup. To be fair, I don't think the current system is that bad. It gets it right most of the time, but the screwups, such as undefeated Auburn getting shutout of NC game, can be brutal. I do not support an actual tournament, the scenario where a two-loss Michigan gets hot near the end and beats an undefeated team in the title game is a nightmare.

The System

Under BCS+, 10 teams are chosen to participate in 5 major bowls(6 conference champions, the highest BCS rated non major conference team, and 3 wildcard selections). To accommodate this, one additional major bowl will have to be added to the current 4. I will use the Cotton Bowl as an example, but if another bowl stepped up it would work the same. Each major game,(except the rose) is paired with a conference that serves as its typical host. The rules for which hosts and guests are assigned are what drives the controversy, the buzz and most importantly, keeps undefeated teams from getting left out of the picture. Without delving into the details, the rules create the best possible matchup of tope teams that will lead the least ambiguity in selecting champions. After the bowls, the two participants are selected for the title game, now one week in the future. As an additional bonus, multiple fanbases retain title hopes through December. After being treated to 5 bowl games with possible title implications, the polls are done once again and the BCS is recalculated.

What BCS+ Isn't

It is not a system for ranking teams. There are already a multitude of ways to do this, both subjective polls and computer systems. This system requires the existence of a ranking system, such as the BCS.

What BCS+ Is

A system of logic that tells us when and how to implement rankings. The current system says little other than to have the two highest ranked teams face each other. This is a system that creates the best scenarios for the bowl games to accomplish multiple purposes(select the two best teams for the NC game, maintain tradition and satisfy multiple parties). I'm not going to divulge the logic chain that makes it up. Instead I will go back through previous years and explain what would have happened. In all cases examined, it produces the same or better result than the current system.


Alabama would host the Sugar Bowl, with 5 undefeated NRB teams, #3 Cincinnati gets pulled in as Guest.
Texas, as number 2 in this scenario, hosts the Fiesta Bowl against Undefeated TCU.
The Rose Bowl features a non title-affecting but traditional matchup of Oregon and Ohio State.
Georgia Tech would host the Sugar Bowl against Boise State.
This is the worst case scenario where possibly an undefeated could be left out but if Boise State beat Georgia Tech convincingly enough....
Result: most likely the real one, Alabama and Texas although without the guilt of snubbing two unbeatens.

1-loss USC against 1-loss Penn State in the Rose Bowl
#1 Oklahoma hosts the Fiesta Bowl, pulling in undefeated Utah
#2 Florida hosts the Sugar Bowl, pulling in #3 Texas
Virginia Tech vs (likely) Alabama in Orange
Cincinnati vs (likely) Ohio St in Cotton
Result: Utah now has a chance, win and they are likely in, otherwise, 3 bowl winners have a shot at being chosen. Florida and Oklahoma are win and in, if Texas beats Florida, the Rose Bowl winner could pass them with a solid win.

#1 Ohio State would plat USC in the Rose Bowl, USC playing the role of spoiler
#2 LSU would play undefeated Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl
#3 Virginia Tech would play Big 12 champion Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl
Kansas inherits the Fiesta Bowl and likely plays Georgia
West Virginia hosts the Cotton Bowl
Result: After LSU defeats Hawaii, they go to the National Championship against Ohio State if they win. If USC knocks off OSU, the VT-Oklahoma winner takes their spot

BCS+ produces 2 de facto semifinals
#1 Ohio State plays #5 USC in the Rose
#2 Florida plays undefeated Boise St in the Sugar
#4 LSU and #3 Michigan are likely left out of the NC but neither won their conference so they cant complain. Michigan goes to the Cotton against Louisville while LSU plays Oklahoma in the Fietsa.
Wake Forrest hosts the Orange Bowl against Notre Dame

will continue to add these, going back to the beginning of the decade..

Mondays Minings

Quick Hits
What happened to the Bears defense. Even a decent performance against the Seahawks and Mike Williams gets them the win yesterday.
The NFC South may be the worst division now. Carolina is the worst team in the league, Tampa is awful, Atlanta is decidedly mediocre and New Orleans is slightly above average at best.
Washington fans seem to be very appreciative of McNabb. Unlike Philly fans who got much better than they deserved for all those years.
Speaking of Philly, the most overrated team in the NFC at the moment. (To quote Joe Fox's dad, that's extremely ironic.) Extremely soft schedule will toughen up over the next few weeks.
If the Packers do make move and pick up a running back by the deadline, the only teams that can keep them from the SuperBowl are the Giants and Cowboys.
Right now, who is the leading MVP candidate? There isn't one player who deserves to be in the conversation.

That's it for the minings today. Wasn't much that really happened. Since Lou Holtz was talking about it on tv this week, I'm going to put up my perfect BCS solution early this week in a separate post. I may post further thoughts if I see anything interesting on short cuts.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Week 6 Prospecting

Chicago -7 over Seattle
bears defense is rolling, seattle is terrible on the road and cutler is back.

Saints -3 over Tampa
After losing to arizona despite dominating them, saints will be hungry. tampa is coming off an undeserved win over a bengals team that just isn't that good

Texans -4 over Chiefs
time for houston to get back on track

Jets -3 over Broncos
This is not high enough

Chargers - 9 over Rams
Smell a slaughter here

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mondays Minings with Matchup Rankings

What We Learned Bengals-Bucs
It was against the Bucs, but the Bengals look like who reasonable people thought they were. They can run and play defense but struggle in the passing game. However, they really struggle in the passing game. In a year in which an unprecedented amount of bad quarterbacks are starting, Carson Palmer looks like the worst. He hit very few receivers that weren't running hooks. Despite rarely facing pressure, he just couldn't hit his targets. Benson looked outstanding, the line looked good, and Palmer repeatedly killed drives by missing easy targets. That said, the Bucs were still very lucky to win this game. Their first touchdown was a pick six on a horrid throw by Palmer. Their second touchdown was courtesy of pass interference on an ill-advised hail-mary on 3rd and 10. Another scoring drive was kept alive by the luckiest bounce on a fumble that I have ever seen. A sack and strip of Freeman bounced about 12 yards to create 2nd and 5 instead of 2nd and 17 or so if he had held onto it. Towards the end, had Palmer kneeled instead of chucking it downfield, they could have pinned the Bucs deep with a punt and won the game. Marching down the field against the prevent, they were set back to first and 20 with less than a minute left. Given the way he'd been throwing, I'd have just gone into overtime instead of giving Palmer license to sling it. What did we learn? The Bucs are terrible, none of them should be on your roster. The Bengals are a potentially decent team, with a massive flaw. Except in deep leagues, I would not feel comfortable starting Owens, despite the numbers he has put up so far.

Quick Hits

Nice to see Ray Rice get back in the mix, although this was one of the better matchups he will see all year.
Interesting to see what happens when Moreno comes back. The running game has to be party suffering because of running talent. I foresee a a large hit to Orton's value, and time to drop any receiver not named Bloyd.
Why on Earth did Todd Collins start that game. The fact that they had to put up with that catastrophic passing attack show the mettle of the Bears defense. Cutler playing with leads and the once-again reliable Matt Forte should go a long way towards the playoffs.
Did you sell high on Jahvid Best? Probably too late now.
Perfect time to sell high on Hakeem Nicks. HIghly doubtful he keeps this up.
If someone thinks their selling high on one of the oyds, Malcolm or Brandon, I think you are buying at fair value.
If the Packers were sucessful in the way hey have been spreading it around, I wouldn't complain, but they scored one touchdown this week. With Finley out, maybe it's time to utilize your best weapons.
It may be finally time to get on board the Felix Jones train. Even in a loss he racked up carries once he saw the bulk of them.
Will Norv ever see the light? RMatthews>JHester>Tolbert>Sproles. Then again, it is Norv.
Seneca Wallace is a better quarterback than many(including me) gave him credit for. Much better than anything Cleveland had last year and yesterday, better than Matt Ryan. He knows how to avoid pressure and make throw on the move. If Cleveland didn't have the hardest schedule in the league, they might do something.

Matchup Rankings

Rankings are based on a consideration of each of the first 5 games. Based on and A to E scale, it seems that the numbers are skewed towards the top. But it seems that compared to recent years, teams are running well, or failing to stop the run. Few teams seem like must-avoid matchups. Of course, these matchup rankings indicate who you want to send your running back against.

Buffalo Bills - In the last two weeks, they gave up 250 yards to the Jets and 70 to a Jaguar rookie in garbage time.

Tampa Bay Bucs - Even in their wins their run defense has been a sieve.

Detroit Lions - Offense scores quick of fizzles, leaving extra times for their opponent to run

Arizona Cardinals - Season-high rushing totals for San Diego and Atlanta

Carolina Panthers - The 200 yards from Chicago was probably an anomaly, but at least 90 yards against each week.

New Orleans Saints - Offense isn't keeping their opponents in the air as much as last year.

New England Patriots
- Defense has been weak, offense is about to give it less help

St Louis Rams
- No disasters, but everyone has run well against the Rams.

Oakland Raiders - Shutting down the Chargers this week is enough to bump the Raiders down to a B.

Philadelphia Eagles - Similarly, the Eagles have upped their stock by shutting down Gore. 2 of their first 4 showings were worrying.

San Francisco 49ers - Did well against two toughest opponents but torched on the ground by Kansas City.

Jacksonville Jaguars - Nothing notable, just consistently subpar run defense

Cincinnati Bengals - We knew the Bengals would struggle to pass, run the ball and play tough defense right? Well what's gone wrong on this team has been the run defense.

Indianapolis Colts - Couple of nice games and three tough ones.

Cleveland Browns - Browns have given up yards but against a slew of solid running teams

Washington Redskins
- Mix of poor and respectable performances

Tennessee Titans - Decidedly mediocre showings until they became the first team to let Dallas run wild.

Denver Broncos - They are constantly throwing because their porous defense leaves them constantly behind.

Atlanta Falcons - What's there to say about a team in the middle?

Miami Dolphins - Teams have hit their median rush totals against Miami.

Seattle Seahawks - Aside from the week 1 aberration, Seahawks opponents have hit their averages.

Kansas City Chiefs - Except for the week 3 aberration, Chiefs opponents have hit their averages.

San Diego Chargers - Slighty more fearsome then the middle teams.

Baltimore Ravens - Mentioned this a couple weeks ago, but the Ravens haven't stopped the run. Medium nubers with one poor showing and one good.

New York Giants - Have turned it on for two weeks, next time, we may find the Giants a D matchup.

Minnesota Vikings - We know they can stop the run. No surprises here.

Dallas Cowboys - Held 4 of 5 to below their average.

Houston Texans - They give it up through the air so easily that teams rarely bother to run.

New York Jets - A force for two week, still haven't given up 100.

Green Bay Packers - Destroyed the running games of 4 of 5 opponents.

Pittsburgh Steelers - 4 opponents posted season-low totals.

Chicago Bears - Opponents can't count on 10 sacks in a half every week.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Week 5 Prospecting

Houston -3.5 over New York Giants
Dumbfounded at this spread.

New Orleans -7.5 over Arizona
Isn't Arizona terrible? New Orleans hasn't trounced anyone yet. This should be the week.

Chicago -2.5 over Carolina
DWilliams neutralized by best run defense, no Steve Smith, I sense a shutout here.

San Francisco +3.5 over Philadelphia
Do I dare? At home against Kolb with the season on the line, it's hard not to.

Green Bay -2.5 over Washington

Song of the Week
Buck Owens - Hello Trouble

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mondays Minings

What we Learned: Giants-Bears
Hopefully nothing, in retrospect, this had all the makings of an upset. The Bears riding high after two big wins and the Giants up against the wall. However, I though the gap was larger than it apparently is, and fell for the hype that the Giants had quit. Well, the disaster happened is probably a result of those identifiable factors plus a few other avoidable forces. First, the Bears line has not been great at any point this year and was not able to withstand the kitchen-sink blitzes of the Giants. But, if they could have beat those blitzes a few times, the Giants would have been forced to back off. Cutler and Martz proved not up to the task. Cutler could have avoided many of those sacks by throwing it away. He really should not have been in that situation, as it would have been quite easy to call a few play that offered an outlet pass. Forte should have ripped off 20 yard gain after 20 yard gain until the blitzes stopped. In the end, this is one terrible game among three good ones for Cutler and the Chicago offense. On the other side of the ball, Chicago is offering a challenge to Pittsburgh as the league's best defense. They held New York to 60 yards of legitimate offense and three points despite constant bad field position and three-and-outs from their offense. That is outstanding no matter who the opposition is.

What We Learned Colts-Jaguars
Not much we haven't figured out in the first three weeks. The Colts defense is not as good as last year. They are especially week to a power running game. This ever-present Achilles heel may hurt them in the playoffs but they would have put this game away without the Reggie Wayne fumble. They ran well, 4 yards a clip without breaking one. The put up passing yards. Offense good, defense suspect. They are not as good as last year, but at this point, noone looks nearly as good as last year's superbowl teams. The Jags are destined for 5 or 6 wins, and they will play well when they can run well. Against teams that can stop the run, Garrard will prove inadequate to pull the team to victory.

Quick Hits:
There's at least 10 starting quarterbacks that I would bench for Tyler Thigpen right now.
That isn't that strong a statement about Thiggy.
Top 15 Redraft: CJohnson, Peterson, Foster, Gore, Mendenhall, Jackson, AJohnson, Wayne, McCoy, Jones-Drew, White, Rice, McFadden, Turner, Gates
There isn't a quarterback I would pick before the third round. Said this before the season but there is very little difference within the top 8, 9 if Vick is ok to play next week.
Carson Palmer is putting in an all-time season at padding his stats in garbage time.
Just because Brandon Jackson has been bad, that doesn't mean Kuhn is good. Ryan Grant is a better back than I thought. That said, can't see anyone besides the 1-2 Cowboys beating the Pack in the playoffs.
Has anyone ever gained as much by not playing as the Cowboys this week? Every good team in the NFC humiliated themselves.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 4 Prospecting

Texans -3.5 over Raiders

Titans -6.5 over Broncos

Chargers -8.5 over Cardinals

Bears +3.5 over Giants

Rams +.5 over Seahawks

Song of the Week
Ken Boothe - Freedom Street

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mondays Minings

This weeks minings will be brief and late. The schedule was thrown off this week but next week, a new work schedule will mean the minings will happen early Monday morning. Also, we are a week away from new schedule rankings so we can look forward to that.

What We Learned - Houston-Dallas
Not much about Houston, you had a team coming off two big wins against a team with its back to to the wall and a lot more to play for. Dallas comes away with a big win, two early losses are more the result of tough scheduling.

What We Learned - Washington-St Louis
Again, not much, the Skins were coming off two emotional games and were perhaps looking past the Rams. They looked passive on defense in a games that did not mean much, even if they should have won easily.

Quick Hits
You can run on Baltimore this year. At this point they are at least a mediocre matchup.
There is no D in New Englan. Start everyone you can.
Saints are what we thought they were(at the mines) solid team but not what they were last year.
Blount should be the starter soon in Tampa, looked substantially better than CWilliams, albeit in limited time. He has more value than Williams ever had, which wasn't much.
Big day for my guys, Machine Murphy and Mario Manningham. That said, Heyward-Bey is showing signs of serious improvement.
Austin Collie is a top 15 guy the rest of the way out.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Week 3 Prospecting

San Fran pickem over Kansas City
Niners need to win now. If they play half as well as they did for three quarters against New Orleans this should be over by halftime.

Tennessee +3 over New York Giants
By the way they've both been playing, Titans shouldn't be getting points.

Indianapolis -6 over Denver
Are the Broncos better than the Giants? They aren't 20 points better.

Washington -3.5 over St Louis
No shame in losing to the Texans. This week will be a lot easier.

Detroit +11 over Minnesota
Lions are expert spread-coverers. Vikings haven't played well enough to warrant this spread.

Philadelphia -3 over Jacksonville

Last week 4-2
Overall 7-5
not pretty, dug myself quite the hole over the first two weeks, with my selected pick faring worse than my pucks overall.

Song of the week
Jackson Browne - The Pretender
Heard this song at the perfect moment on radio margaritaville. On a bike at dusk on an isolated stretch of hilly terrain. Perfect tempo and rhythm for the situation.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mondays Minings

What we learned: Carolina-Tampa
So far, Carolina looks like the worst team in the league, and certainly the worst defense. I would consider almost any player in a matchup against the Panthers. Well, unless that player is Cadillac Williams. For Carolina's offense, we have confirmed that there aren't enough fantasy points to support two running backs. This is the reason why I avoided Williams and especially Stewart in drafts this fall. 3 yards/carry? 5o yards each? There isn't going to be a better matchup than this. You are probably stuck starting Williams but maybe you can trade him to someone who still thinks he has value. In no case should Stewart be started. The switch to Clause is probably good for Steve Smith, but he was going to produce anyways due to the SWAG'N theory.

What we learned Houston-Washington
The one weakness of the Texans is obviously the secondary. Has to be more than just the loss of Dunta Robinson. For the Skins, Portis is a play only against good matchups, but at least he is getting the bulk of the carries. Santana Moss should be a regular start, but noone else qualifies. Cooley benefited from the matchup but I don't think he should be used most weeks. Despite the loss Washington looks like a solid team, perhaps the class of the NFC East.

What we learned Indianapolis-New York
Felt like I was taking crazy pills when analyst after analyst thought the Giants were good, some picking them to win the decision. Well the pills have apparently worn off and the Giants exposed. The lone bright spot was pickup of the week, Mario Manningham. For the Colts a few things became clear. Wayne and Clark are the primary options. Collie and Garcon are the secondary targets. This is good new for Collie, as Anthony Gonzalez isn't seeing much time. Collie who was drafted well behind Garcon appears to be just as good a play, although there will be weeks when Garcon hits. Joseph Addai looks great and again received the bulk of the meaningful carries, the touchdown aside. Donald Brown struggled for most of the game, but put up better numbers in garbage time. Handcuff at best.

Fluke of the Week: Pittsburgh over Tennessee
Week 1 saw a bad Kansas City team beat the Chargers through a combination of special teams and luck. This week, the Steelers, though as incapable of creating drives as they were the previous week against Atlanta, beat the Titans with one kickoff return and one terrible officiating mistake. Yes, the Titans made seven turnovers, but some of those turnovers happened because the Titans were put in an uncomfortable situation. What we learned: Though Nate Washington got another touchdown, he is not a fantasy option, only racking up 34 yards despite the team being in a passing scenario all game. On the other side, the Steeler receivers are not going to be consistent plays either. It would be safe at the moment to start running backs against Tennessee, but not wideouts. The opposite is true for those matching up against Pittsburgh.

Quick Hits:
Either the Ravens defense is vulnerable to the run this year, or Benson is going to put up numbers.
Nice to see Desean Jackson putting up solid numbers. After 2 weeks, I believe all the top wrs have a 100+ TD game.
Sticking with the Eagles, Lesean McCoy is going to get enough carries to be useful. If someone thinks he is selling high after this week, it might the time to swing a trade.
The NFC west could possibly be won at 6-10. Any of the four might come in last in the AFC west.
Can you still get anything for Jamal Charles or Jerome Harrison? their value has been submarined by their backups.
Everyone was scared to say how bad Peterson looked last year, he looks like 2008 vintage so far this fall. Too bad the team is now so bad around him.
Jermichael Finley looks uncoverable.
Seattle run defense may just be good.
Poor Randy Moss got stuck on Cromartie Island. Yes, he is the first to be stuck there.

Sell High Don't Buy
Jahvid Best RB Lions - Lots of touchdowns and a lot of garbage time action. 20 yards week 1. 3 yards/carry week 2. A lot of receiving yardage and one big run as the Lions lit up the board after the Eagles shut it down.
Kyle Orton QB Broncos - Yards have piled up, but look at the slate of opponents.
Mark Sanchez QB Jets - Looked good this week, Carson Palmer looked good against the Pats too.
Mike Tolbert RB Chargers - Not going to happen again, count on that.

Buy Low
Felix Jones RB Cowboys - It has looked bad so far, but better days will come. And weaker opponents.
Larry Fitzgerald WR Cardinals - In case his owner panics. He will rebound and put up top 1 numbers. Remember SWAG'N.

Eye Don't Buy:
Brandon Pettigrew TE Lions - I liked Pettigrew last year and for the future, but with two tight ends on the Lions, it will be tough to start him this year. But if you have an empty spot....

Machine Murphy WR Raiders - Bruce loves him, so do I.
Josh Morgan WR 49ers - How was he undrafted while Crabtree was a 5th rounder?

Note: Though I never referred to it by acronym before, I have long used the theory that Stud Wideouts Always Get Numbers.(SWAG'N) This means that the top receivers will end up putting up points even in a bad situation, with bad quarterbacks or against tough matchups. For example, see Andre Johnson on some bad Texans teams a few years ago.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 2 Prospecting

Titans -5 over Steelers
Pittsburgh struggled to move the ball against Atlanta and Dennis Dixon is not strong in the pocket. The way Jason Jones has been tearing through the line, this spells a disaster.

Packers -13.5 over Bills
This should be a slaughter.

Panthers -3 over Bucs
Panthers coming off a disappointing loss host the Bucs who were lucky to beat Cleveland.

Chargers -8 over Jaguars
San Diego is at home and should look to rebound from a humiliating loss. JAX is likely not very good.

Colts -4.5 over Giants

Raiders -3 over Rams

Texans -1 over Redskins

Last Week 3-3

Song of the Week: Jimmy Buffett - Far Side of the World, Live in Hawaii version
Overlooked because the original, album version is so bad. Like many Jimmy songs, this one is much better with the new arrangement used live.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mondays Minings

Colts-Texans What We Learned
The take here is not to get too carried away. The Texans will throw more in the future and the Colts will run more. Houston will not always be nursing a lead against a team with such an imbalance in the quality of run/pass defense. The Colts will probably rarely be playing from behind. Foster at this point looks like a top 12 back. I said this winter that the Texans were a running back and a kicker away from being 11-5. They appear to have found both those things. On the other side we learned a few things. The Colts will be a good team to run against. Pierre Garcon was vastly overrated, he is a solid option but his numbers will end up closer to Austin Collie than to Reggie Wayne. Joseph Addai looked the best he has in years in his limited touches. With Donald Brown failing to make an appearance, Addai is another top 12 back.

Eagles-Packers What We Learned
The Packers look like the class of the NFC right now but if the Packers don't make the Super Bowl it will be because the defense lets them down. The offense is clicking and whoever the running back is, Ryan Grant or Brandon Jackson, is a must start. Switching sides, Lesean McCoy will be just fine, operating in both phases of the offense with 80 all-purpose yards. No matter what happens, Kolb's status is in trouble, I don't foresee a situation where Vick doesn't take at least some of the snaps. Drop him.

49ers-Seahawks What We Learned
Hopefully, not much. I've seen this before, team comes out and dominates inferior team but fails to put points on the board. Then fluke play occurs(in this case the 35 yard pass to the one after doing nothing on offense or defense for 25 minutes) and the momentum swings. If as in this case, the better team is put in a bad position, as the Niners were by having to play catch up and keep the ball in Alex Smiths hands, it can get out of hand. That said, neither the young Niners line nor Frank Gore looked good in the running game. Hopefully this is just a case of rookie linemen finding their roles but there is legitimate concern here. As for the Seahawks, I'm not buying anyone. I still think the Niners win this decision, but the next few weeks could be tough.

Bills-Dolphins Quick Hits
Bills are the best week 1 team of all time.
Confirmation- You want no part of a Buffalo running back, no matter how good Spiller was in college.
Marshall didn't put up big yardage but with 8 catches, he is clearly going to find the same success he had in Denver.

Bears-Lions Quick Hits
Get use to it Cutler deniers. He will finish in the top 8. Lions were slaughtered everywhere but on the scoreboard. Take away two receiver fumbles and this game is a blowout.
Fools who drafted Jahvid Best were rewarded this week, but the 2 TDs are the fluke and the 20 yards show the quality of the pick. He'll do better than that but will you ever be comfortable starting him.
Losing Stafford is the best thing for Calvin Johnson. Megatron does better with a qb that just hucks it up rather than trying to find an open guy. Thus his numbers were better in 08 than 09 and immediately became a larger presence after Stafford went down last night. Buy low.

Rams Cardinals Quick Hits
Mark Clayton might be the pickup of the week after Brandon Jackson. He has done it before, has solidly put up at least 500 yards each year since 06. The Rams will be behind and throwing often, despite a schedule of soft defenses.

Brandon Jackson RB Packers - see above
Mark Clayton WR Rams - see above
Mario Manningham WR Giants - not that much less a threat than Steve Smith or Nicks
Mike Vick QB Eagles- see above
Mike Thomas WR Jaguars - maybe if you don't trust MSW

Don't Buy/Pickup
Hakeem Nicks WR Giants - Manningham actually had the most yards, the touchdowns are fluky.
Nate Washington WR Titans - Raiders always give up big games to second receivers
Peyton Hillis RB Browns - Just why? Would you start him if he got all the carries? No. No place on roster.
Brandon Lloyd WR Broncos - Jaguars are not a good defense. Royal only Bronc that should be on a bench.
Steve Breaston WR Cardinals - One of two games this year where he outplays Fitzgerald, you don't want to start him in the rest.
Anyone who scored without putting up yardage.
Mike Williams WR Seahawks

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Week 1 Prospecting

This is a new feature at the mines where I pick 5 or 6 games a week. Additionally, there will be a song of the week, either something that I hear on xm radio that I hadn't heard before or something I never fully appreciated before. What does this have to do with picks or fantasy football? Nothing, but I'm going to do it anyways.

Miami -3 over Buffalo

San Francisco -2.5 over Seattle

Green Bay -5 over Philadelphia

Chicago -7 over Detroit

Baltimore +1.5 over New York Jets

San Diego -4.5 ove Kansas City

Song of the Week

Lord Kitchener - Nora

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Team Prospects

Buffalo-Under 5.5 wins
After 6 wins last year, the team is still a mess. Against a tough schedule, they will have a tough time getting back to 6.

Chicago-Over 8 wins
They won 7 last year and absolutely everything went wrong. This year the oline can only play better. The defense is bolstered by Peppers and Urlacher.

Cincinnati-Over 8 wins
This is a team that won 10 games last year, despite suffering a rash of injuries on defense over the last few weeks. After a disastrous playoff performance by the second string defense, the hate has gone too far.

Cleveland-Under 5.5 wins
They won 5 last year, they won't top that against what may be the toughest schedule in the league. They also plan to play Jake Delhomme at quarterback.

Denver-Under 7 wins
This team finished 2-6 down the stretch. Since then, they have lost their best player on each side of the ball. The schedule is easy but that won't be enough.

Houston-Over 8 wins
8-8 last year and lost 4 games because of missed chip shots and goal line fumbles. Those problems have been fixed.

Jacksonville-Under 7 wins
Division is too tough and they aren't any better than the 7-9 team we saw last year.

Miami-Over 8.5 wins
Things seem to be in place for Miami, who will need to improve on last year's seven to win the division. They added a top talent at a position of dire need.

New York Jets-Under 9.5 wins
The Jets, a 500 team last year, won't top that win total against this murderer's row schedule unless two more teams lay down for them at the end.

Oakland-Over 6.5 wins
The schedule is too easy for them not to top this. They won 5 last year and made a big improvement at the most important position.

Pittsburgh-Under 9 wins
9-win team with Big Ben last year. How have they improved? Starting out 1-3 won't help them get back to 9.

San Diego-Over 11 wins
Won 13 last year and face the easiest schedule in the NFL. Improved running game as well.

Tennessee-Over 8.5 wins
The opposite of Denver, this team won 8 last year after tossing the first 6. They should top 8 by playing all 16.

Tampa-Under 5.5 wins
Not a lot of wins on this schedule for a team that has so little on both sided of the ball.

Washington-Over 7.5 wins
The biggest jump from 4 wins, but they made the most improvements.

Now the teams that I stake my claim on.

Green Bay-Over 10 wins
In position to be the class of the NFC. They aren't going down from last year's 11-5. 14 wins is more likely than 9.

San Francisco-Over 8.5 wins
This is cake, 8-8 last year and going up against an NFC easiest schedule. Throw in a full year of Alex Smith and a potentially healthy Gore, and SF gets 9 in their sleep.

For posterity, here's the rest of the league.
Arizona- 7.5 from 10
Atlanta-9 from 9
Baltimore-10 from 9
Carolina-7.5 from 8
Dallas-10 from 11
Detroit-5 from 2
Indianapolis-11 from 14
Kansas City-6.5 from 4
Minnesota-9.5 from 12
New England-9.5 from 10
New Orleans-10.5 from 13
New York Giants-8.5 from 8
Philadelphia-8.5 from 11
Seattle- 7 from 5
St Louis-4.5 from 1

For kicks, division winners

San Diego
Green Bay
New Orleans
San Francisco

Made my super bowl pick in February and I'm sticking with it, even though everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon. Green Bay-Indianapolis.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wide Receiver Preview

Tier 0

1. Andre Johnson-Texans WR1-Average Pick 7(1)
Andre Johnson is in a class by himself among receivers this year. Typically, one receiver goes into the year with a bulk of hype and gets drafted way too soon. For example, Larry Fitzgerald was taken in the top six or seven picks last year, even though you could get someone of his tier in the late second. This year is the exception. AJ is the reigning points leader, and is situation has improved. The running game in Houston can only improve. Less drives killed by second and 12 means more points for Johnson. As part of an improved offense that is already one of the best in the league, Johnson's value is unprecedented among receivers. After the first tier of backs, there is absolutely nothing wrong with picking Andre Johnson.

Tier 1

Receivers are traditionally less risky than backs. Moreover, there are fewer good receivers this year than usual. The top wideouts are pretty obvious and you can't do wrong with any of them. The first tier is separated by thin margins and all of them are solid choice with small chance of disappointing you. I'd start looking at them in the mid-second. A very nice strategy, if you end up with a high pick, is to take two of these guys in the second and third rounds. With all the running backs available in the fourth and fifth, a foundation of Ray Rice, Miles Austin and Greg Jennings looks mighty fine. Low risk, and plenty of reward.

2. Miles Austin-Cowboys WR1-Average Pick 23(8)
Established number one option on a good offense that can go deep. Absolutely no reason to expect Austin to fail to repeat his last-year success.

3. Brandon Marshall-Dolphins WR1-Average Pick 19(5)
Some people are worried about Marshall's transition to Miami, but here's the thing. He is going to a better offense. He is going to a team that can run the ball and keep drives alive. If he can light up with Kyle Orton, he can put up numbers with Chad Henne.

4. Reggie Wayne- Colts WR1-Average Pick 16(4)
Number one target for Peyton Manning. As long as Wayne is on the field, he will score points. The floor is set high here.

5. Larry Fitzgerald-Cardinals WR1-Average Pick 14(3)
Still one of the top three talents, and as I've always said, top receivers get numbers in bad situations. But without Warner, I can't pick him ahead of guys with more secure situations. UPDATE: Moving down with injury news, Jennings and White definitively ahead of him now.

6. Greg Jennings-Packers WR1-Average Pick 28(10)
I'm coming in high here but I think Jennings' value merits it. He will be the top target for the top offense. Two years ago he was a surprise(sorta) fantasy star. Last year reality sunk in a bit and Driver grabbed a larger share of the touchdowns. This year Jennings becomes the receiver he really is and establishes himself as a perennial top fantasy pick.

7. Roddy White-Falcons WR1-Average Pick 22(7)
Got it done last year, he will do it again. Unless something changes, pick him here next year and the year after as well.

8. Desean Jackson-Eagles WR1-Average Pick 26(9)
Suffers a a qb change, but we saw him in action with Kolb last year and I have to say I liked what I saw. A deep threat that can produce 6 at any time, DJax is going to get numbers.

Tier 1.5

9. Vincent Jackson-Chargers WR1-Average Pick 58(20)
A special case because he is missing three games. His overall numbers will of curse suffer but beyond that, Jackson will produce. When drafting him, remember, he is going to be there during the fantasy playoffs, when it matters. If you think you can get through the first few weeks and still make the playoffs, then go ahead and take him.

Tier 2A

Tier 2 guys have the opportunity to produce at the level of the first tier receivers. There are just some lingering questions, and they are much less of a sure thing.

10. Randy Moss-Patriots WR1-Average Pick 11(2)
While possessing the ability to finish top 5, I don't trust Moss in the event that the season turns downhill for the Patriots. A documented history of zero-effort season combined with advancing age makes me shy away from Moss well past the point where I could possibly draft him.

11. Calvin Johnson-Lions WR1-Average Pick 21(6)
The downside for CJ is what we saw last season. But with more experience at the qb position, the Lions should be good enough for Calvin to get his numbers. Stafford season 2 should produce at least well as previous Lions signal callers who allowed Calvin to be a fantasy force.

12. Sydney Rice-Vikings WR1-Average Pick 49(16)
Rice may be taken down by a failing Viking offense. There will be fewer touchdown catches overall and Rice should suffer. He does not yet have the track record that gives me faith he can still score during a team slump. UPDATE: Rice is actually a value now that he is dropping due to Favre retirement rumors.

13. Marques Colston-Saints WR1-Average Pick 21(11)
A bit of an oddball in this mix, with a lower ceiling and higher floor. He is a risk primarily because of how much the Saints spread it around. Still he is the only Saint I trust at all to get his share, and on a great offense, points will go to WR1.

Tier 2B

The tier is split because the last three have just a few more questions. In the end, they makeup the last group of wideouts that I feel comfortable with. These guys could regain their form but I'm not banking on it. While I'd rather take one of them than someone without a proven track record. All the more reason to get two top tier guys and use picks in this range on running backs. There are enough prospects in the later rounds that you can draft three guys with potential to be a third wr.

14. Steve Smith-Carolina WR 1-Average Pick 33(12)
The issue with Smith is that he did not produce last year and he is on the wrong side of 30. On the bright side, he played much better with Moore than with Delhomme. With Moore at the helm for the whole year, Smith could be alright.

15. Anquan Boldin-Ravens WR1-Average Pick 36(13)
Like Smith, Boldin has been disappointing owners recently. He also has struggled to stay healthy and is joining a new team with a qb that may not mesh with his style. Still, he has all the talent necessary for a big year and will welcome a running game that take the pressure off the receivers.

16. Chad Ochocinco-Bengals WR1-Average Pick 41(14)
Actually did alright last year and is part of a team that should still be decent. I don't think TO makes much of an impact but I worry about his ability to put up huge numbers. Why is he part of this tier? Because I have no doubt he puts up decent second-third receiver numbers.

Tier 3

From here on out, you are looking at unproven or declining players. If you didn't get two of the above receivers, you did something wrong. More than likely, you are looking for one more starter. The best solution is take two or three that have potential.

17. Michael Crabtree-49ers WR1-Average Pick 51(16)
Despite an inordinate amount of hype, Crabtree has never really done anything. He played decently at the end of the year, but not number 2 fantasy receiver good. To think he is more than a risk/reward pick is foolish. But, as I'm high on Alex Smith, and high on the Niners, he is my favorite risk/reward pick.

18. Santana Moss-Redskins WR1-Average Pick 78(28)
After one of the most up and down careers we have ever seen, Moss remains a fantasy enigma. He has practically always provided feat or famine, alternating 200-yard games with 2-catch stinkers. However, he enters 2010 with the best quarterback he has ever had and personally I think their styles will work well together. McNabb excels at the deep ball and Moss catches nothing but.

19. Donald Driver-Packers WR2-Average Pick 64(23)
The risk with Driver is that the wheels fall off. He isn't getting older and last year could have been a final hurrah. But he is worth a risk because, he put up numbers last year and is part of an offense with serious power. Even as the number two, there may be enough touchdowns going around to make Driver an every-week starter.

20. Mike Sims-Walker-Jaguars WR1-Average Pick 50(17)
MSW is, as Mrs. Larusso would call it, up-and-coming. He put up some big numbers last year, amidst overall inconsistency. He has a chance to establish himself as a bonafide starter as the only legitimate option on a struggling offense.

21. TJ Houshmandzadeh-Seahawks WR1-Average Pick 80(29)
The risk is a repeat of last year, stuck on an offense that failed to move the ball or put up touchdowns. He remains a talented receiver who has done it before and if the Seahawks can improve a little, Housh may prove a starter once again. In reality, it probably cannot be worse than last year, and TJ still had decent yardage.

22. Steve Smith-Giants WR1-Average Pick 42(15)
Although Smith put up high yardage last year, there are some doubts about his ability to repeat. Many are high on Nicks, and while I have doubts about him as well, his presence is enough to cause concern. Moreover, one year is not enough of a history to consider Smith a proven commodity. The upside is, obviously, that he puts up another 1,200 yards.

23. Pierre Garcon-Colts WR2-Average Pick 70(24)
Like the Packers, the Colts have a good enough offense to support two receivers. And like the Packers, I think the number two option for the Colts is set in stone. Anthony Gonzalez may challenge Austin Collie for the third spot, but Garcon is a lock to be opposite Reggie Wayne. There is also a chance, and here is the upside, that Garcon becomes Wayne to Wayne's Harrison.

Aversion Tier-Highly rated receivers to avoid

Percy Harvin-Vikings WR2-Average Pick 92(32)
With the dip in Viking production, Harvin is the casualty in terms of fantasy relevance. No longer a team that can support gimmicky utility men.

Robert Meacham-Saints WR-Average Pick 90(31)
I absolutely don't trust any Saints besides Colston. IN the past, I've championed Meacham as a deep sleeper because of his ability to get deep and place on a top offense, but as mid-round pick, he is far too much of a gamble.

Hines Ward-Steelers WR1 and Mike Wallace-Steelers WR2-Picks 58(19) and 80(27)
If one of these two were “the guy” I might be willing to take them. That uncertainty, combined with Ward's age and Wallace's unproven record makes me shy away. And also, there is that Big Ben suspension.

Guys that will put up decent numbers but with little chance to put big numbers. You aren't looking for steady, dependable bench guys. You want guys with a chance to start. While most of these players will put up an occasional big game, you won't be able to predict it.

Dwayne Bowe-Chiefs WR1-59(20)
Wes Welker-Patriots WR2-61(22)
Hakeem Nicks-Giants-WR2-75(25)
Braylon Edwards-Jets WR3-88(30)
Dez Bryant-Cowboys WR2-91(31)
Steve Breaston-Cardinals WR2-97(35)
Lee Evans-Bills WR1-105(37)
Jerricho Cotchery-Jets WR2-126(39)
Derrick Mason-Ravens WR2-127(40)
Devery Henderson-Saints WR-138(47)
Austin Collie-Colts WR3-141(48)

Tier 4

So who do you pick once those first 23 are gone? Well, luckily you have three of them already. That isn't too difficult as several of them are being draft much lower than 23. But once they are gone, you are looking for sleepers that could turn into a starter.

Devin Aromashadu (136(45)) and Johnnie Knox(107(38))-Bears WR1 and WR2

The Bears will be back and one of these two will break out. Which is still up in the air. Aromashadu put up some highlights at the end of last year. Knox has looked good so far this summer. Either would be a good choice as a 4th receiver with upside.

Santonio Holmes-Jets WR1-Average Pick 101(36)
Misses a few games early but this follows the Vincent Jackson rule; he will be there at the end. He is the most talented of the Jets receivers and will establish himself as the go-to guy by the fantasy playoffs.

Malcolm Floyd-Chargers WR2-Average Pick 132(42)
Great value for the first three weeks during Vincent Jackson's suspension, but possesses value of his own as the number guy in a top offense facing an easy schedule.

Jeremy Maclin-Eagles WR1-Average Pick 77(27)
Value as the potential go-to for the Eagles, who should continue to move the ball. Being drafted fairly highly for a sleeper at the moment.

Kenny Britt-Titans WR1-Average Pick 122(39)
Should be the number one option in Tennessee.

Deeper Sleepers

Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey-Raiders
One of these three could end up worthwhile. Based on the end of last year, I'm gravitating towards Murphy.

Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams-Bucs
I liked Benn after the draft, as there is always room for one big target on a bad team. So far in the preseason, Williams has been more impressive.

Josh Morgan-49ers WR2
Very good value this deep as Crabtree is no sure thing and Morgan could end up as the top wideout on a playoff team.

Jacoby Jones-Texans WR2
If Jones can hold off Kevin Walter and establish himself as the second option, there are enough points for in the high-flying Texan offense.

Devin Thomas-Redskins WR2
Like him as a red zone target in the new Redskin offense.

Mohammad Massaquoi-Browns WR1
Was an inconsistent threat last year. Has the possibility of becoming a consistent target this year.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Quarterback Preview

As always, the quarterbacks will be covered more lightly than running backs. The consensus tends to be closer to the mark when it comes to signal callers. Likewise I am in agreement with the majority about who the top qbs are. You can't go wrong by taking one of the solid seven and I don't think they are as far apart in value as the top guys might be in an average year. Nonetheless, I will split the top tier into two mini tiers, with the caveat that I would rather wait and take Romo in the 4th than take Rodgers in the 1st. I'd much rather have, say Gore and Romo as opposed to Rodgers and Forte.

Tier 1A

1. Aaron Rodgers-Packers-Average Pick 10(2)
Should the top backs and Andre Johnson be off the board in the late first, Rodgers is an acceptable pick.
2. Peyton Manning-Colts-Average Pick 14(3)
Too dependable and safe to pass up, if you have the choice.
3. Phil Rivers-Chargers-Average Pick 37(6)
Only concern is that his schedule is too easy, and he may not score much in 4th quarter.

4. Drew Brees-Saints-Average Pick 5(1)
Didn't Rodgers outscore him last year? Is there anything to jusify picking him that high? Yes and no.

Tier 1B

5. Matt Schaub-Falcons- Average Pick 30(5)
Bumped down half a tier because of lack of evidence he can play like last year consistently. Health concerns are overblown but present.

6. Tony Romo-Cowboys-Average Pick 38(7)
With Rivers, a good target because of where you can draft them. Good team, good targets, he will score.

7. Tom Brady-Patriots-Average Pick 19(4)
I foresee struggles in New England, just enough to notch him here.

The strategy I see myself using is to take two backs and a receiver with the first three picks, than possibly scooping Romo or Rivers in the 4th. If you can't get one of the seven, and that means three teams in a standard league, ou need to go with option 2. If you remember from last year, that means taking two guys with upside, and exploiting matchups or getting a breakout from one of them. If the guys you take don't pan out, or you suffer an injury to your choice of the solid seven, you have option 3: musical quarterbacks with the wavier wire. So while I think guys like Chad Henne will have a solid year, he isn't a good choice for option 2 because he doesn't have the upside.

Tier 2A

8. Jay Cutler-Bears-Average Pick 81(10)

Cutler was 10th among qbs last year and it was widely seen as a disaster. The line couldn't block anyone, the defense couldn't get off the field. This year, the line can only get better and the defense would have to be better even without the addition of Peppers and the return of Urlacher. Next year at this time, we will be debating him among the solids.

9. Brett Favre-Vikings-Average Pick 56(8)
We all know the upside, we saw it in 2009. The honeymoon is likely over, and the career low in interceptions is likely a fluke. His upside and floor are both greater than the guys below him. However, if I miss out on the seven, I probably wait still longer than where you need to take Favre. UPDATE: I am not changing rankings of Favre or any Viking based on speculation he might not play. I will believe Favre is retired when week 1 starts and he is not out there.

Tier 2B

10. Kevin Kolb-Eagles-Average Pick 92(12)
Young qb stepping into a good situation, with a good target like Desean Jackson and a veteran team around him. Similarly to Aaron Rodgers two years ago, I like this pick even if we knew nothing about Kolb. The inexperience means its no sure thing but in the scenario, big numbers are possible.

11. Donovan McNabb-Redskins-Average Pick 93(13)
The former Eagle is in the opposite situation as his replacement. A qb who we know can produce in a scenario that we are unsure of. The presence of Shanahan is what tips the balance for me. I feel confident the coach can utilize McNabb's abilities and put up points.

12. Alex Smith-49ers-Average Pick 139(23)
Ranked absurdly low. As long as he gets a shot he has a chance to put up big numbers against a cupcake schedule. Two prime targets and a top notch running game to take the pressure off. I'm riding the Niners this year and the means Smith makes a nice backup and a great risk/reward pick in deep leagues.

13. Matt Ryan-Falcons-Average Pick 101(14)
Should be a bounce-back year in Atlanta, and Ryan has a chance to be a solid starter. Still just a chance and he makes more sense as a low floor guy with a little extra upside.

Tier 2ALT

Eli Manning-Giants-Average Pick 90(11)
Consistently a top 10-15 quarterback, but unlikely to break out and deliver big numbers.

Chad Henne-Dolphins-Average Pick 125(19)
I think he will be fine and safe but the team if too focused on the run for him to score big.

Joe Flacco-Ravens-Average Pick 68(9)
People are getting way too excited about Flacco. He will be okay, but I don't see a breakout.

In a deeper league, other options become necessary. You may not be able to draft two second tier guys, and it may be attractive to take a sturdier option. Matt Ryan fits in here as well.


Matt Stafford-Average Pick 134(20)
Second year qb ready to make the leap on a team that can only get better. And he throws the ball to Calvin Johnson.

Jason Campbell-Raiders-Average Pick 146(24)
Most talented Raider quarterback since Rich "The Canon" Gannon. Campbell can throw the deep ball, he will get a shot to do that here.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Running Back Preview

Tier 1
As usual, the top ball-carriers should be the first off the board. This is even more true this year as there is no consensus top quarterback and a host of solid receivers. The value of getting one of these backs at 7 or 8 is tremendous, making those picks very desirable.

1. Chris Johnson-Feature Back-Tennessee-Average Pick 1
As the reigning top performer, CJ2k is unsurprisingly being drafted at the top. I don't believe he repeats last year's success but he doesn't have to to justify this pick. He led all running backs by 50 points last year. An expected drop-off would cut his lead down to around 10. A poor showing would still be in the top 5. He is entering his third year so he shouldn't be wearing down yet. Schedule: Good stud schedule with lots of mid-level games. Not as easy as last year but still above average.

2. Ray Rice-Feature Back-Baltimore-Average Pick 4

From my February post, "
Love him. The talent, the situation, its all there. Who wouldn't want to run behind Mike Oher the next 4 years?" Nothing has changed since then. Rice should not disappoint, running behind the best line in the league, he likely has the lowest floor of any back. The only negative is the tough schedule in his division, going twice against a Steeler D that should still be tough, and the healthy front seven of the Bengals.

3. Frank Gore-Feature Back-San Francisco-Average Pick 8(6)

Gore always puts up numbers when he is in the game. I'd rather have a beast like Frank that misses a few games and scores big than someone puts up lower numbers but stays healthy. I'm high on the 49ers this year, a better passing game and improved line means Gore could be top 6 even missing a couple. If he stays healthy, watch out. A steal in the late first. Schedule: Best in the league, 5 prime matchups. The only trouble spot should be against Green Bay.

4. Steven Jackson-Feature Back-St Louis-Average Pick 7(5)
It can't be worse than last year. The team can't be worse. The defense and line can't be worse. And Jackson was 10th. He also picks up an easier schedule, in fact one of the 4 best, going up against the AFC West and of course the NFC West.

5. Maurice Jones-Drew-Feature Back-Jacksonville-Average Pick 3

Last year's second place finisher is hampered by a poor overall team and a lack of late game leads. Still, his team wasn't exactly a world-beater and he was second last year. Look for a repeat of that success, against a somewhat harder schedule. It is not a bottom half schedule, expect more of the same from the touchdown machine.

6. Adrian Peterson-Feature Back-Minnesota-Average Pick 2

I don't like Minnesota this year and consequently, don't like Peterson. A running back who looks increasingly sluggish behind a line that is in decline to say the least is not promising. I would not be surprised to see Peterson slip further than this, but he is not the 2 pick to say the least. Schedule: Easily the toughest among the top 6 backs. with 5 tougher games and few gimmes.

Tier 2
The first tier should be the first 6 off the board. The second is at your discretion. It is reasonable to take Andre Johnson before the second tier. In general, the first tier of receivers is equal in value to the second tier of running backs. However, with the limited amount of reliable wideouts in 2010, you may be tempted to lock one of them up rather than take one of these backs, where there may be rb value in later rounds.

7. Ryan Grant-Feature Back-Green Bay-Average Pick 18(11)
This situation is too tough to pass up. The feature back on the best team in football. With the Packers consistently leading, Grant will score more touchdowns and Rodgers fewer. They will not likely pass in the red zone as often. A plethora of late game leads and red zone touches will put Grant in the top ten. A clear target in auction leagues and a must take in the mid second round. With the seventh pick, and the 6 off the board, I debate long and hard between Grant and Andre Johnson. Technically, he could be considered tier 1.5. Schedule: Middle of the pack but few games that will give him trouble.

8. Ryan Matthews-Feature Back-San Diego-Average Pick 26(13)
The perceived value of the Charger rookie has finally caught up to the actual value. While not the 4th round steal that he was in early mocks, he is still a value in the second round. Norv contributed to that process, publicly stating the amount of carries Matthews would get. Like Chris Johnson a few years ago, Matthews is entering a perfect scenario. Feature back on a good offense with an easy schedule. As long he has the talent of a mailbox, you would be crazy not to turn your life upside down and draft him. Schedule: The second easiest, and the easy schedules this year are better than usual, thanks to the AFCW/NFCW showdown. Matthews will clean up these cupcakes.

9. Rashard Mendenhall-Feature Back-Pittsburgh-Average Pick 12(8)
The second tier after Grant is pretty even. They all have potential. They all have a question. It is mostly a matter of preference, so ignore the numbers and think about the facts. Mendenhall is on a team that could struggle offensively in a division of tough defenses. The line has been less than satisfactory. But, he did fine last year in the same scenario. The team has always focused on the run and will do so even more with Big Ben. I pegged Mendenhall as a sleeper for two years(only once successfully.) Now my opinion fits right into the mainstream. Schedule: One of the tougher ones, at least 5 games will pose problems for the oline.

10. Cedric Benson-Feature Back-Cincinnati-Average Pick 21(12)
I feel Benson has one more solid year in him. I feel Cincinnati had a rash of injuries at the end of last season and the the defense will be solid. However, I worry about both of these predictions. Everything is in place for the Bengals but it could fall apart all too easily. High risk/reward pick, but one of the last few feature backs. Schedule: A lot of medium difficulty games on a schedule that is surprisingly mediocre.

11. Michael Turner- Feature Back-Falcons-Average Pick 9(7)
Turner is lower risk/reward than his tier mates. That makes him a better first round pick in essence, however, he is likely gone before there is value in picking him.
With the second tier guys, you are looking for the one who slips to the second round, and that will rarely be Turner. All the same, he has an easier schedule than last year, although not as easy as the cupcakes he faced in 08. It should be a bounce-back year for the Falcons, and I wager Turner capitalizes on that to finish top 10.

Tier 3
Number 2 fantasy backs are a tricky species. At least one of them will slip to the early 4th, so it will be very tempting to take a receiver in round 3. Most drafts will play out with the last of the go-to wideouts coming off the board in round 3. More than likely, the smart play will be to take one of them, and grab the tier 3 back that drops to you in the 4th. This tier is mostly guys with high upside, and considerable questions.

12. Shonn Greene-Lead Back-Jets-Average Pick 20(11)
Questions: Tomlinson's presence. Team falling back. Reasons: Greene showed something at the end of the year and you have to think he is the man going forward. I like his future prospects, but I like Greene 2011 more than Greene 2010. I worry about what LDT will do to Greene's numbers, especially on the goal line. Tomlinson will pout if he doesn't get the when they are on the one, and the Jets may placate him like Norv did last year. Secondly, the disastrous Tomlinson touches may play a part in the fading team success that I see for the Jets this year. The upside is there, and he is being drafted based on that. I don't want to be stuck with a guy that gets pulled at the goal line. Schedule: Slightly harder than average.

13. Joseph Addai-Lead Back-Colts-Average Pick 42(20)
Questions: Donald Brown will take away carries. Health risk. Reasons: There is so much value to being the Colts running back, that it surprising how low Addai is being drafted coming off a top 10 year. Yes, Brown was injured and will be back, but Addai's value wasn't in stockpiling yards. It was in finishing off Peyton Manning's drives with 2-yard touchdowns. He should still do that as even when Brown was healthy, Addai still got the goal line carries. If the analysts thought Brown was going to take that many carries, shouldn't he be ranked a lot higher? There is a disconnect and both Colts are ranked too low. Schedule: On the easy side of average. Lots of middle level games.

14. Dangelo Williams-Lead Back-Carolina-Average Pick 15(9)
Question: Timesplit. Reasons: Success in timesplit over 2 years. Opinions vary about the two Panther backs, and while Williams has had demonstrably greater success with the same line on the same team, this is as high as I'm willing to go for a guy that is projected to get half the carries on an average at best team. He will do fine but aside from a Stewart injury, there is not a lot of upside here. Schedule: On the hard side of average.

15. Ronnie Brown-Lead Back-Miami-Average Pick 46(22)
Question: Injury risk. Timesplit. Reasons: Miami is an upward moving team, meaning more points for a pair of backs that already scored in bunches. Brown may be counted on to miss a few games but when he is in, he should score big. As always, I will take the guy that scores and goes out, allowing you to play someone else, over someone who clogs up your roster with low scoring games. Schedule: Full slate of easy, medium and hard games, with the quirk of the best schedule for fantasy playoffs.

16. LeSean McCoy-Lead Back-Philadelphia-Average Pick 32(17)
Question: Inexperience. Reasons: The Eagles are still a decent team with a good offense. McCoy is the only back that fits the system. He will have too many opportunities to put up points to avoid taking him ahead of backs on bad teams, even if they are more talented or have done it before. Schedule: Almost entirely middle-level games, the kind a stud back would dominate and a border starter would struggle against.

17. Knowshon Moreno-Lead Back-Denver-Average Pick 21(14)
Question: Team offense. Late season slip. Reason: I've always been a fan of the former UGA back, but I apparently am more scared of his team quality than the majority. The second half of Denver's season exposed their start as a fluke and I don't think they make much noise this year. Moreno has a future but I doubt he is a fantasy star just yet. Schedule: Top 6 schedule is the main quality in his favor, 7 advantageous games. UPDATE: Preseason injury should not affect his performance too much. Unless it leads to them bringing in another back, I would only bump him down below Charles.

18. Jamaal Charles-Lead Back-Chiefs-Average Pick 31(16)
Questions: Poor offense. Poor oline. Thomas Jones taking carries. Reasons: Charles is a beast. At the end of last year, he was running over defenses behind the same line that didn't produce for Larry Johnson. Thomas Jones should not be a factor, who has had success running behind strong lines on teams with good defenses. That is not the Cheifs. However, this is the flip side to the Addai situation. Somehow the experts have Charles ranked above Addai and Jones above Donald Brown. This is sheer lunacy. There are many more points to be had in the Colts offense than in the Chiefs. Schedule: Very light, as long as he starts the year he should keep his job.

Tier 4
This tier is compose of of third rbs, guys with high potential but substantial risk. Backups that give you a chance to breakout and do something. You should probably try to get at least one. In a deep league, a nice strategy is to take one top tier back and two of these guys. That way you double your chances of hitting big.

19. Pierre Thomas-Lead Back-Saints-Average Pick 38(19)
If Thomas got the majority of the carries on a good offense like the Saints, he would be atop 10 pick. Unfortunately, I, and many others, do not trust Sean Payton to give him the carries he needs. More than likely, he splits up the carries three ways again. Making matters worse is Payton's tendency to give Reggie Bush goal-line carries. However, the potential is there to have a knockout season. Schedule: Middle of the road with a full slate.

20. Felix Jones-Committee Back-Cowboys-Average Pick 49(23)

Jones could break out in a big way. He is probably the best of the Cowboys backs at the moment. The problem is that Marion Barber is the definite goal line guy. On an offense like the Cowboys, there will be enough yards to make Jones a decent spot starter. If anything happens to Barber(an injury prone guy,) Jones will be a lot more than that. Schedule: All middle range matchups, making it tough if he's splitting carries. If he get the majority he will excel.

21. Jonathan Stewart-Committee Back-Panthers-Average Pick 35(18)
Some analysts have Stewart as high as 10. This is foolish. He could end up that high, but so could Felix Jones or Pierre Thomas. On a mediocre team like Carolina, a second back just isn't worth more than a late-4th. He has been worse than teammate Dangelo Williams per carry for two years now. He needs Williams to miss games to be an obvious starter.

22. Matt Forte-Lead Back-Bears-Average Pick43(21)
Forte was outstanding two years ago and awful last year. He could be the feature back of a rising offense or lose his job to Chester Taylor. He is the definition of risk/reward. I'm high on the Bears and like the idea of taking a risk on at least one of these guys. More than anything, the oline couldn't possibly be worse. Decent schedule if he was the star we thought he was a year. Not enough prime games that 2009 Forte could put up points on.

23. Ben Tate-Lead Back-Texans-Average Pick 86(35)
Could be considered a sleeper, but I think he chances of starting are as good as Forte's and much better than Stewart's. If he is, then he is the lead back for one of the best offenses in the league. At the least, the failures of Texan backs on the goal line last year should give Tate first crack at red zone chances. Potentially, you can get a starting quality rb in the the 8th round. Schedule: On the tougher side, Tate will be hoping Schaub can throw him into the red zone. UPDATE: It looks Tate is out for the year, immediately slide Arians Foster into this spot. Foster has less competition for this spot than Tate did. Foster ended 2009 with two good names, we know as much about him as we did about Tate.

24. Brandon Jacobs-Lead Back-Giants-Average Pick 51(24)
A potential, goal line/workhorse back on a mediocre team. The upside of what Jamaal Charles probably ends up being. The downside is a potential disaster. Jacobs was just not good last year. With his size and style, he may be hitting the downward slope of his career early. Most likely he ends up a serviceable matchup starter. Unfortunately, against the second toughest schedule, those will be few and far-between.

25. Marion Barber-Lead Back-Cowboys-Average Pick 69(29)
The starting back of one of the best teams that has the edge for the goal line carries is ranked awfully low here. But injury risk and push from a young speedy back for carries will do that. Potentially, Barber stay healthy, scores a bushel of touch downs and becomes a steal. The alternative is Jones getting the bulk and going from future rb to present rb.

26. Ricky Williams-Committee Back-Dolphins- Average Pick 52(25)
Williams showed that he still has some in the tank. His problem is Ronnie Brown is ahead of him on the depth chart. The potential is there on a strong running team like Miami. But Williams' age and timesplit makes him too risky to take before this point.

27. Donald Brown-Committee Back-Colts-Average Pick 108(41)
Since everyone is convinced Brown is going to take carries away from Joseph Addai, you would think he would be ranked higher. Count your blessings, he is a steal. Potentially, he could be the top back on the number one offense. Why would you ever take guys that are potential top backs on awful teams ahead of him?(see tier 5) Even in a split on the Colts, he has value. Should Addai much talked-about injury-proneness appear, Brown is a top 10 guy.

Tier 5
They lack the upside of a tier 4 back but have a better shot to be solid as they have the pole position to be the lead back on a team that won't necessarily put up as many points. The value in these guys is as dependable starters in very deep leagues. Not ideal third or 4th backs.

28. Jahvid Best-Feature Back-Lions-Average Pick 64(27)
While Kevin Smith was wildly overrated last year, it seems people have picked up on the fact that being a feature back doesn't mean much when you're on the Lions. Schedule: Medium difficulty.

29. Beanie Wells-Lead Back-Cardinals-Average Pick 29(15)
No Warner means the Cards are on the decline, Not to the Lions level, but with Hightower lurking on the goal line, Wells will have a hard time putting up points. Schedule: Favorable, with many favorable matchups.

30. Darren McFadden-Lead Back-Raiders-Average Pick 84(34)
The Raiders running game should be string but McFadden will share the load with Micheal Bush. Still, he should put up points against that easy schedule. Dependable, but without much upside.


Overrated backups:

Thomas Jones-Second Back-Chiefs

Running behind the worst line, on a team with the worst passing game and the worst defense of his career.

Reggie Bush-Committee Back-Saints
Zero dependability.

Tim Hightower-Goal Line Back-Cardinals
The goal line carries dry up without Kurt Warner to toss it into the red zone.

Timesplits on a bad team: They are bad enough on a good team, but on a bad team, there is no reason to take a committee back, except as a late sleeper. Even then....

Jerome Harrison and Montario Hardesty: Cleveland.
Harrison had a nice end of the year but if Cleveland though he was that good, they wouldn't have picked Hardesty so soon. He will get a share, and a full load in Cleveland is barely draftable. Moreover, this is the toughest schedule in the league. Not many 300 yard games in there.

Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller and Marshawn Lynch: Buffalo
Too many guys with too few TDs, especially if Lynch is getting the goal line and nothing but. Also, they face one of the toughest slate of defenses.

Justin Forsett, Leon Washington and Julius Jones: Seattle
Even if Forsett gets the majority, is that worth drafting him? You take a risk to get an upside of a third running back? Schedule: Mediocre.


Michael Bush-Committee Back-Raiders-Average Pick 106(39)
According to Heyward-Bey could end up carrying the load.

Steve Slaton-Committee Back-Texans-Average Pick 145(49)
Astonishing low considering the way he played two years ago. If he gets it together, you have a starting back on a top 5 offense in the last round.

Willis McGahee-Goal Line Back-Ravens-Average Pick 137(48)
Value as a spot starter just for his goal line thefts. The Ravens running game and line is strong enough to support two backs. More so than Carolina.

Chester Taylor-Committee Back-Chicago-Average Pick 118(45)
If he plays third down back, he still has more value than this. Anything goes wrong with Forte and old Chester is suddenly quite a steal.

Notable Handcuffs
No point in handcuffing someone if their backup isn't going to preform. I wouldn't bother with cuffing Chris Johnson, because whoever goes in isn't getting close to is numbers. The handcuff is better executed when the starting back receives a portion of his value from the line or situation.

Toby Gerhart-Vikings
I have a feeling Peterson goes down this year. Gerhart should do decently.

Brandon Jackson-Packers
Such a good situation, I'd play LaDanian Tomlinson if he was starting for Green Bay.

Lynell Hamilton-Saints
A bit more than a handcuff, but should be drafted as one by anyone who takes Pierre Thomas.

Jonathan Dwyer-Steelers
I just think the rookie has potential. If he gets a shot, he could priduce.

Jason Snelling-Falcons
Did well in his spots last year.

Scenarios to keep an eye on

Washington and New England are completely unclear at the moment. Both should be decent teams and sport fantasy value at the running back position, if we knew who might get the bulk of the carries. Noone is quite draftable but don't forget these teams exist.