Archive for December, 2007

Bet on It

Friday, December 28th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

Last week’s 9-7 mark brought my overall season record to 120-111-9. Not bad for my first time ever picking against the spread on every game during the season. I’m up just two games on defending RotoWire Staff Picks champ Chris Liss, and we only differ on the Patriots, Eagles and Redskins games this week, so keep your fingers crossed. Here are the Week 17 winners:

Patriots -14 at Giants

Bills +7.5 at Eagles

Panthers -2.5 at Buccaneers

Bengals -2.5 at Dolphins

Lions +3.5 at Packers

Jaguars +6.5 at Texans

Seahawks +2.5 at Falcons

49ers +10.5 at Browns

Saints -2 at Bears

Cowboys +9 at Redskins

Steelers -3.5 at Ravens

Vikings -3 at Broncos

Chargers -8 at Raiders

Rams +6 at Cardinals

Chiefs +6.5 at Jets

Titans -6.5 at Colts

Best Bet: Saints

Comments: What a ridiculous week of handicapping. If there were ever a more clear reason why not to play fantasy football into Week 17, look no further than this week’s crazy spreads. Clearly, the oddsmakers value motivation quite highly, but good luck predicting which teams sit their players (and whom and when). There’s a fine line between not overvaluing the skill position players, yet at the same time, motivation really is important.

Podcast

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Here’s a podcast from my XM show (RotoWire’s Fantasy Sports Hour) from Wednesday. You can find more on iTunes as well.

Thursday Morning Quarterback

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

Watching last Thursday’s game, it became clear that Santonio Holmes is more important to the Steelers’ offense than Willie Parker is…Marc Bulger was one of the five biggest busts in fantasy football this year…Steven Jackson seems to break off a big run every single week. He’s going to be an excellent value pick in fantasy leagues next year.

It seems so long ago, but do you realize Steve Smith had 15 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns through two weeks this season? It rarely happens, but when both he and Jake Delhomme are healthy at the same time, he’s fantasy football’s best wide receiver…Terrell Owens had a big 2007, but fantasy owners should remember he faded down the stretch, is injury-prone and will turn 35 years old next season; he’ll probably go too high for my taste.

Over the last five games, Eli Manning has completed 79 of his 175 pass attempts, good for a 45 percent clip. His 6.2 YPA and 19:26 TD:turnover ratio are truly atrocious…There isn’t a bigger risk/reward player to draft in fantasy leagues next year than Brandon Jacobs…Tom Coughlin has officially passed Mike Shanahan as the league’s rushing guru, as he continuously produces huge numbers on the ground no matter who is toting the ball. Ahmad Bradshaw, anyone?

I’d argue that the Packers turned in one of the worst performances any team has all season long last Sunday…Who cares what Chicago’s record is with Kyle Orton starting at quarterback? That’s like saying what a good year the starting pitcher with a 4.65 ERA and 15-7 record had…It’s bad for the league that both Green Bay and Dallas appear to be limping into the postseason…If no competition is brought in, how high does Ryan Grant go in fantasy leagues next year?…Greg Jennings can’t make it past the early third round, either…How about Green Bay punter Jon Ryan’s day last week? He had two punts blocked, also dropped a snap and booted a 9-yarder, finishing with a 15.0 net.

I would be shocked if Rudi Johnson is back in a Bengals’ uniform next season…Derek Anderson has not been very good over the second half of the season, and the Browns would be wise to enter next year with both Anderson and Brady Quinn on the roster…I’m not sure what to make of Carson Palmer’s season, but he’s had one of the most disappointing campaigns in the league this year.

While not exactly Rocco Baldelli territory – after all, he’s set the bar at an almost unreachable height – Kevin Jones has become extremely injury-prone. He simply can’t be trusted…Playing for a bad team, Tony Gonzalez has quietly put together one of the best seasons of his career at age 31…Larry Johnson was someone to avoid in fantasy leagues this year coming off the record-setting 416 carry 2006 season, but this year’s injury may mean fresh legs for next year. The 3.5 YPC is a concern, but he’s still just 28 years old and a beast, so he may be a pretty good value pick in 2008.

If Andre Johnson isn’t selected within the first 15 picks during next year’s fantasy drafts, I’d be shocked…Peyton Manning is the best player in the NFL, but he simply can’t be drafted in the first three rounds of fantasy leagues. There are five QBs within five TD passes of his 31 scores and four other signal callers with more yardage. That position simply has to be waited on.

JaMarcus Russell has looked nothing short of terrible during his brief work in the NFL, and I hate to say I told you so, but that team would be sitting much prettier if they went Calvin Johnson over him instead…Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t live up to my high expectations this year, but I love him as a value pick next season with Fred Taylor’s strong finish in everyone’s mind. Taylor is about to turn 32 years old, which is ancient for a running back.

For those of you still playing fantasy football during Week 17, join a different league. That said, Pierre Thomas is my sneaky play of the week…New Orleans is my “bet of the week” Sunday for these reasons: 1)New Orleans was badly beaten last week while Chicago dominated 2)New Orleans actually does have something to play for 3)Chicago ended New Orleans’ season last year and 4)Kyle Orton is starting at quarterback for the Bears.

Anquan Boldin was flat-out dominant last week…Anyone who drafts Jerious Norwood in next year is going to hate Jason Snelling with a passion…If you prorate Kurt Warner’s stats from his 10 starts this season over a full 16-game slate, here are the results: 32 touchdowns and 30 turnovers.

With a decent defense, offensive line and running game, the 49ers would be solid with a competent quarterback. Shaun Hill may very well qualify…Patrick Willis had one of the most dominating games of the season Sunday, racking up 20 tackles, recording two sacks, defending one pass and forcing another fumble. It helps to play on a defense always on the field, but this kid is the real deal. He’s recorded 29 more tackles than anyone else in the NFL this season.

Ironic that Laurence Maroney was one of the best fantasy running backs during the two most crucial weeks of the season. Too bad most of his owners were likely already knocked out thanks in no small part to him…Tom Brady is going to go in the top-5 of an awful lot of fantasy drafts next year, but I’d advise against it. After a magical first half of the season (9.1 YPA, 30 TDs), he’s been only “great” since then (7.5 YPA, 18 TDs). A 35-touchdown season from a quarterback simply isn’t as valuable as a stud running back. Plus, this was hardly an anomaly how the inclement weather during Weeks 14-16 hurt his stats when it mattered most.

Is there a more overrated coach in sports than Brian Billick?…I hope D.J. Hackett ends up on a bunch of my fantasy teams next year…Do we really have to be subjected to the Todd Collins led Redskins in the playoffs? What’s that point spread going to be? Seattle minus 14?

I haven’t heard this talked about much, but the Madden cover jinx most certainly struck again this year…The Titans/Browns playoff scenario is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen. The Browns could start me at quarterback and have essentially the same odds of making the playoffs (a tie isn’t going to happen).

Is there really even a debate regarding whom Washington should start during the playoffs? Jason Campbell got 6.5 YPA this season, while Todd Collins has gotten 8.7 with a 4:0 TD:INT ratio. If they are in the postseason, it also means the team went 4-0 with Collins starting. Campbell is going to be coming off a pretty serious knee injury. This one’s a no-brainer…Tarvaris Jackson is no friend of Adrian Peterson’s fantasy owners. He’s got to be able to pick apart defenses absolutely loading the box to stop the run.

With the secondary showing vast improvement and the running game working, it’s too bad Philip Rivers is quarterback for the Chargers. They’d be a very interesting team with someone else at the helm. As is, look for San Diego to get blown out Round 2 against the Colts…Brandon Marshall will enter 2008 as a top-30 fantasy player.

Top-30

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

A lot will change between now and August, but here’s my top-30 fantasy outlook, an extremely early edition:

1. Adrian Peterson
2. LaDainian Tomlinson
3. Brian Westbrook
4. Marion Barber
5. Joseph Addai
6. Steven Jackson
7. Frank Gore
8. Randy Moss
9. Tom Brady
10. Marshawn Lynch
11. Maurice Jones-Drew
12. Andre Johnson
13. Braylon Edwards
14. Steve Smith
15. Terrell Owens
16. Ryan Grant
17. Willie Parker
18. Willis McGahee
19. Brandon Jacobs
20. Reggie Wayne
21. Larry Fitzgerald
22. Marques Colston
23. Larry Johnson
24. Clinton Portis
25. Reggie Bush
26. Brandon Marshall
27. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
28. Greg Jennings
29. Chad Johnson
30. Plaxico Burress

Barometer

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Check out the final edition of the season of Risers & Fallers.

Bet on It

Friday, December 21st, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

Last week I went 8-8 to bring my overall season record to 111-104-9. I haven’t had a winning week in too long, so it’s time to get back on track. Here are Week 16’s winners:

Steelers -8 at Rams

Cowboys -11 at Panthers

Browns -3 at Bengals

Packers -9 at Bears

Texans +7 at Colts

Chiefs +4.5 at Lions

Giants -2.5 at Bills

Raiders +13 at Jaguars

Eagles +3 at Saints

Falcons +10 at Cardinals

Buccaneers -7 at 49ers

Dolphins +22 at Patriots

Ravens +10 at Seahawks

Jets +8.5 at Titans

Redskins +6.5 at Vikings

Broncos
+9 at Chargers

Best Bet: Colts

Comments: Taking four road favorites makes me sick to my stomach, but the Rams, Bears and Panthers are awful teams. Weather has become the great equalizer, but good luck guessing how that will shake out this weekend. Vegas must think Indy is going to sit its starters for the majority of that game, or they got confused and think it’s being played in Houston. The Colts are just four points better than the Texans on a neutral field, really? That spread should be double-digits.

Week 16 Lineup Rankings

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

Quarterbacks

1. Tom Brady
2. Derek Anderson
3. Carson Palmer
4. Tony Romo
5. Peyton Manning

6. Ben Roethlisberger
7. Drew Brees
8. Kurt Warner
9. Brett Favre
10. Matt Hasselbeck
11. Donovan McNabb
12. David Garrard
13. Jon Kitna
14. Philip Rivers
15. Jay Cutler

16. Jeff Garcia
17. Vince Young
18. Eli Manning
19. Sage Rosenfels
20. Marc Bulger

Running Backs

1. LaDainian Tomlinson
2. Adrian Peterson
3. Brian Westbrook

4. Joseph Addai
5. Ryan Grant
6. Earnest Graham
7. Steven Jackson
8. Brandon Jacobs
9. Willie Parker
10. Jamal Lewis
11. Kevin Jones
12. Fred Taylor
13. Maurice Jones-Drew
14. Frank Gore
15. Aaron Stecker/Reggie Bush
16. Marshawn Lynch
17. LenDale White
18. Rudi Johnson/Kenny Watson
19. Kolby Smith
20. Willis McGahee

21. Marion Barber
22. Laurence Maroney
23. Edgerrin James
24. Adrian Peterson (Chi)
25. Clinton Portis
26. Jerious Norwood
27. Ron Dayne
28. Selvin Young/Travis Henry
29. Dominic Rhodes
30. Jesse Chatman/Samkon Gado
31. Thomas Jones
32. DeShaun Foster/DeAngelo Williams
33. Shaun Alexander
34. Chester Taylor
35. Warrick Dunn

Wide Receivers

1. Randy Moss
2. Terrell Owens
3. Braylon Edwards
4. Andre Johnson
5. Reggie Wayne
6. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
7. Chad Johnson
8. Marques Colston
9. Larry Fitzgerald
10. Brandon Marshall

11. Greg Jennings
12. Wes Welker
13. Hines Ward
14. Plaxico Burress
15. Joey Galloway
16. Anquan Boldin
17. Torry Holt
18. Deion Branch
19. Bobby Engram
20. Calvin Johnson
21. Steve Smith
22. Donald Driver
23. Lee Evans
24. Roddy White

25. Shaun McDonald
26. Bernard Berrian
27. Santonio Holmes
28. Anthony Gonzalez
29. Kevin Curtis
30. Reggie Brown
31. Chris Chambers
32. Patrick Crayton
33. Derrick Mason
34. Chris Henry
35. Jerricho Cotchery
36. Santana Moss
37. Dwayne Bowe
38. Jerry Porter
39. Ronald Curry
40. Mike Furrey

Wednesday Morning Quarterback

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

I’m done with Denver Broncos running backs. The system isn’t even worth the headache anymore…Mario Williams was an absolute beast Thursday night…While an upgrade over Bryant Gumbel, Tom Hammond was being a little silly anointing Sage Rosenfels as Houston’s quarterback of the future. Matt Schaub is three years younger and got 7.8 YPA this season – truly elite territory…While it’s true quarterbacks make receivers and not vice versa, truly elite wideouts can be difference makers in the NFL, and Brandon Marshall is one of them – he’s a top-25 commodity in the National Football League.

San Francisco (+8.5) was the bet of the century last Saturday – in fact, I was a big advocate of taking the moneyline. Since Cincy has no running game and the league’s worst defense, that’s a truly awful team with Carson Palmer playing poorly…Will someone please explain to me why Shaun Hill was riding the pine in favor of Trent Dilfer? Mike Nolan simply has to go…If you’re still alive in your fantasy league, pick up Kenny Watson and start him this week at home against the Browns if Rudi Johnson (hamstring) sits.

Thankfully I wasn’t subjected to the Panthers/Seahawks game Sunday, when the two teams entered the fourth quarter tied 0-0. Seattle is still not a good road team…Will someone please explain to me why Matt Moore was riding the pine in favor of David Carr and Vinny Testaverde?

Phil Dawson is the man…I don’t care if the over/under is 70 – I’m taking the over on this week’s Bengals/Browns tilt…Marshawn Lynch is having a fine rookie season, but I’d like to see that 3.9 YPC move higher before aggressively recommending him next year.

I’m beginning to think this Chiefs team just isn’t very good…Vince Young has been a massive disappointment this season, but coming off Sunday’s impressive performance, he’s not a terrible start next week against the Jets…You can’t stop Rob Bironas, you can only hope to contain him.

It’s been beaten to death by now, but let me reiterate – Brian Billick should have been fired on the spot for kicking that field goal at the end of the fourth quarter Sunday. Is there a worse team in the NFL than the Ravens right now?…I will never draft a receiver named M. Clayton ever again, you have my word…I’m pretty upset Miami won’t be finishing 0-16 this year.

To call the Patriots’ underwhelming performance Sunday a letdown would be an understatement…How bad is Donte’ Stallworth? Playing on a team with a quarterback who’s thrown for 45 touchdowns, Stallworth has three scores on the year while staying healthy. The immortal Jabar Gaffney is currently getting more snaps than him.

I legitimately think the Saints are a better team the fewer carries Reggie Bush receives…Kurt Warner is having a fun season – over the past six games, he’s thrown for 15 touchdowns. He also has 14 picks over the last eight games…Do yourself a favor and don’t even think about selecting Edgerrin James in fantasy leagues next year – go after someone with upside instead.

The Jaguars proved they are one of the five best teams in football with a resounding win over the Steelers Sunday; they will be sending zero players to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl…How about David Garrard and Ben Roethlisberger combining for an ironic 5.2 YPA with six touchdown tosses.

I’m going to save my breath for the most part and only argue a few Pro Bowl selections, but did I really see Donald Driver made the team? Teammate Greg Jennings has 10 more touchdowns in two fewer games! No Charles Woodson either? What a travesty…Marc Bulger’s nightmare of a season cannot be understated – he’s been brutal this year.

Way to stick it to Bobby Petrino Falcons. I’m sure he’s really regretting moving on after that performance Sunday…Laurent Robinson led all Atlanta wide receivers with one catch for 18 yards…It’s safe to say Arthur Blank isn’t having the best year, with the Bill Parcells fiasco a cherry on top…There needs to be an inquest if Jerious Norwood doesn’t dominate the carries over the final two games of the season.

Amazing how every baseball player named in the Mitchell Report tried steroids just once.

Nnamdi Asomugha is the most dominating (and best) defensive player in the NFL and an unquestionably top-10 player in the league. The 32 tackles and one interception hardly tell the story, because it’s difficult to rack up stats when teams never throw your way. Entering last weekend, he had allowed a total of nine receptions through 14 games on the year. He guards the opposing teams No. 1 WR each week! Since I was at the Raiders/Colts game this past Sunday, I could watch what TV won’t allow, and let me tell you, this guy is no joke – he’s both physical (extremely hard to separate from at the line of scrimmage) and fast. The fact he didn’t make the Pro Bowl is a crime against humanity.

Did you guys hear that Jessica Simpson was at the Cowboys game Sunday?…One week after I was slurping Dallas as one of the greatest teams ever, they lay a goose egg against the Eagles, making me look bad in the process…Nice of Terrell Owens to choose two of the most important weeks in fantasy football to have his two worst weeks of the season…Back in high school, I used to frequently play basketball and flag football with Michael Gasperson, who was recently signed off the Eagles’ practice squad. That’s pretty cool.

Thanks for showing up, Antonio Gates…I still can’t figure out this Chargers team. They do a terrific job of blowing bad teams out while at home, but I don’t trust Philip Rivers as far as I can throw him. Still, they do have talent on both sides of the ball. My guess? Jacksonville goes to San Diego and kills them in round one of the playoffs.

Eli Manning had 34 incompletions Sunday. 34! No team in the league relies more on its line – both offensive and defensive – to win games than the Giants do…Jeremy Shockey hasn’t even come close to my expectations after his rookie season.

Monday night marked the second time this year that the Bears lost a game in which they were plus-four on the turnover ratio. That’s not very good…Words can’t describe how bad the quarterback play was with Kyle Orton and Tarvaris Jackson under center. Chicago’s offense could not have been more scaled back, and Orton flat-out missed an open Bernard Berrian streaking for what would have been the tying score late in the game…Right now, I’ll make the argument that the San Francisco 49ers have the better quarterback, running game, defensive line and secondary than the Chicago Bears do.

Barometer

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Check out this week’s edition of Risers & Fallers.

Bet on It

Friday, December 14th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

I again stumbled to a 7-9 mark last week, bringing my overall season record to 103-96-9. I’m still three games up on defending RotoWire Staff Picks champ Chris Liss, and it’s a battle as epic as the Alamo. Here are my Week 15 picks:

Broncos pick ’em at Texans

Bengals -8.5 at 49ers

Cardinals +3.5 at Saints

Falcons +12.5 at Buccaneers

Ravens -3.5 at Dolphins

Bills +5.5 at Browns

Packers -10.5 at Rams

Jaguars +4 at Steelers

Jets +23.5 at Patriots

Seahawks -7.5 at Panthers

Titans -4 at Chiefs

Colts -10.5 at Raiders

Lions +10 at Chargers

Eagles +10.5 at Cowboys

Redskins +4.5 at Giants

Bears +10 at Vikings

Best Bet: 49ers

Comments: I’m not happy going with a whopping 12 favorites, but it’s past time we’ve come to realize that parity doesn’t exist in the NFL this year. There are some really, really good teams (the Cowboys would have probably beaten the last three Super Bowl winners) and some really, really bad teams (the Dolphins have put the history books in front of the future by starting Cleo Lemon over John Beck). Anyway, I’m surprised the Patriots spread isn’t 29 or 30 points, the Colts should have their game covered by halftime, and the Vikings are better than people think. As for the Bengals, they have no business laying that many points on the road. Chris Liss will not beat me.

Week 15 Lineup Rankings

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

Quarterbacks

1. Tom Brady

2. Tony Romo
3. Brett Favre
4. Peyton Manning

5. Derek Anderson
6. Matt Hasselbeck
7. Drew Brees
8. Kurt Warner
9. Ben Roethlisberger
10. Carson Palmer

11. Jay Cutler
12. Sage Rosenfels
13. Jeff Garcia
14. Donovan McNabb
15. Eli Manning
16. Philip Rivers
17. Jon Kitna

18. Marc Bulger (check status)
19. David Garrard
20. Trent Edwards
21. Tarvaris Jackson
22. Todd Collins
23. Josh McCown
24. Vince Young
25. Shaun Hill

Running Backs

1. LaDainian Tomlinson
2. Joseph Addai
3. Adrian Peterson
4. Brian Westbrook

5. Ryan Grant
6. Marshawn Lynch
7. Willis McGahee
8. Earnest Graham
9. Frank Gore
10. Brandon Jacobs
11. Steven Jackson
12. Aaron Stecker
13. Jamal Lewis
14. Selvin Young
15. Willie Parker
16. LenDale White
17. Rudi Johnson
18. Darius Walker

19. Marion Barber
20. Kevin Jones
21. Justin Fargas (check status)
22. Clinton Portis
23. Kolby Smith (check status)
24. Chester Taylor
25. Maurice Jones-Drew
26. Fred Taylor
27. Adrian Peterson (Chi)
28. Edgerrin James
29. Laurence Maroney
30. Shaun Alexander
31. Jesse Chatman/Samkon Gado
32. Thomas Jones
33. DeShaun Foster/DeAngelo Williams
34. Warrick Dunn/Jerious Norwood
35. Fred Jackson

Wide Receivers

1. Randy Moss
2. Terrell Owens

3. Andre Johnson
4. Braylon Edwards
5. Marques Colston
6. Larry Fitzgerald (check status)
7. Reggie Wayne
8. Greg Jennings
9. Joey Galloway
10. Brandon Marshall
11. Wes Welker
12. Plaxico Burress

13. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
14. Chad Johnson
15. Lee Evans
16. Torry Holt
17. Hines Ward
18. Deion Branch
19. Bobby Engram
20. Bernard Berrian

20. Steve Smith
21. Santonio Holmes
22. Donald Driver
23. Shaun McDonald
24. Calvin Johnson
25. Anthony Gonzalez
26. Chris Chambers
27. Laveranues Coles (check status)
28. Roddy White
29. Bryant Johnson
30. Patrick Crayton
31. Derrick Mason
32. Chris Henry
33. Jerricho Cotchery
34. Kevin Curtis
35. Reggie Brown
36. Santana Moss
37. Dwayne Bowe
38. Jerry Porter
39. Ronald Curry
40. Amani Toomer

Wednesday Morning Quarterback

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

I keep hearing how Jason Campbell looks so good, but the guy hasn’t gotten more than 6.4 YPA in a game since Week 5, and Todd Collins was an immediate upgrade when he came into Thursday’s game…The Bears need a running back…Kyle Orton is overrated. So he drinks Jack Daniel’s – big deal. All that makes him any different is that he’s dumb enough to be photographed. Oh, and as a player, he’s simply beyond horrific (51.6 completion percentage, 5.1 YPA for his career).

I have no idea why I keep picking the Dolphins ATS. This team is historically bad. Last week they allowed a rookie QB who entered with a 1:5 TD:INT ratio throw four scores without a pick and two Buffalo RBs to eclipse 100 rushing yards…John Beck may very well not be the long-term answer at quarterback; in fact, odds are he’s not. However, we don’t know for sure after only four starts, so Miami’s decision to start Cleo Lemon Sunday is egregious. Why let a silly thing like going in the history books as the first 0-16 team take precedence over the future of a $900 million franchise?

Carson Palmer has been absolutely awful the last two weeks and is in the midst of his worst season as a pro. The Bengals as an 8.5-point road favorite this week is a joke…This week in Triple-D 2.0 – DeDe Dorsey is averaging a whopping 9.1 YPC this season…If you take away one third quarter run, Steven Jackson gained 37 yards on 17 carries against the soft Bengals’ defense last week.

While I’m not even close to giving up on him, Shaun McDonald is currently a better wide receiver than Calvin Johnson…While probably the third best team in the NFL right now, this Dallas squad would have almost certainly won the last three Super Bowls…As sure as Drew Peterson is guilty, Marion Barber is the superior running back to Julius Jones.

With last week’s matchup with Oakland in the books and upcoming tilts against St. Louis and Chicago, you get the feeling Ryan Grant is going to be on a lot of winning fantasy teams this year…With tickets to this week’s Colts/Raiders game, I’m going to have to do some serious tailgating to make it watchable. I’ll put the over/under on Joe Addai TDs at 2.5.

Earnest Graham is an unstoppable force…As crazy as it sounds, I’m starting Sage Rosenfels during a Week 15 fantasy playoff game this week…I can’t believe how frequently quarterbacks get killed when sliding feet first. It’s almost as if defenders don’t realize he’s down without being touched. The rule actually ends up typically leaving QBs in the most vulnerable position possible. Flags rarely get thrown when it happens, too.

Reggie Williams is averaging an astounding 11.5 yards per target this season. To put that into perspective, Reggie Wayne led the NFL with 9.5 YPA last season…I can’t believe how good Fred Taylor has been over the past three weeks. I refused to ever touch him again in a fantasy league after his groin fell off the bone the year I took him early, but he’s proven to be extremely durable as he’s gotten older.

While never practicing, Plaxico Burress often has poor first quarters, but his step appeared to be sprier last week – just in time for the fantasy playoffs…Donovan McNabb only throwing multiple touchdowns in two games this season looks especially bad when you consider he has quite possibly the most difficult running back to game plan against at his disposal…The Giants are 9-4 and haven’t beaten a single team with a winning record this season.

In a battle of attrition, Vince Young vs. Philip Rivers was one of the uglier quarterback duals of the season…Kerry Collins finished with -0.7 YPA Sunday…Antonio Cromartie is having a rather odd season – his nine interceptions lead the NFL, but his 27 tackles rank 171st among defensive backs.

Adrian Peterson’s box score last week was the most surprising of the year…In the history of the NFL, no team had ever had two different defensive tackles have interceptions in the same game. Minnesota had three different DTs pick off the 49ers Sunday…If I’m an NFC team, I do not want to see the Vikings in January…Your guess is as good as mine as to why Shaun Hill wasn’t playing over Trent Dilfer to begin with.

Gutsy performance from Larry Fitzgerald last week…Bryant Johnson was held to just one catch, but he was targeted nine times and has scored in consecutive games, making him a fine fantasy start this week if Anquan Boldin (toe) remains sidelined. New Orleans’ secondary is very inviting…Kurt Warner has thrown 12 touchdowns over the past five games. He’s also been picked off eight times over the last three contests. His fantasy value relies heavily on your league’s scoring system.

The Steelers aren’t even in the same stratosphere as this Patriots team…How is the spread not in the 30 range against the Jets? New England’s average margin of victory at home this season is 23.5 points, the Jets are one of the worst teams in the league, and the whole spygate factor is a legitimate thing. New England should just go for two after every touchdown…Tom Brady is officially the most unlikable player in sports.

Nothing’s more frustrating than having a fantasy season end at the hands of Mike Shanahan, but so was the case for me when I started Travis Henry over Selvin Young last week. Then again, I fully admit I was asking for it in the first place…That said, giving Young the heavier workload was the right move, and he should continue to do so. But why must Shanahan insist on being so secretive? Would the Chiefs have really game planned differently knowing Young was starting over Henry?…Brandon Marshall is ill…Jay Cutler will unquestionably enter 2008 as a top-10 fantasy quarterback.

I don’t have much to say regarding the Browns/Jets game, but these Levitra commercials drive me crazy. Listen, erectile dysfunction is nothing to joke about, and if I had it, I highly doubt I’d refer to it by a cute pet name such as “E.D.” It just seems a bit miscast as an abbreviation.

Very frustrated I took Baltimore and the points last week – that game had letdown written all over it after the Ravens nearly beat the Pats the week before. At least my boy Anthony Gonzalez came through…How about Peyton Manning’s line? He threw for 249 yards and four scores – all on just 13 completions…Is it just me, or are there an inordinate amount of terrible quarterbacks in the league right now?

The Saints are a better team with Aaron Stecker at running back than they were with Reggie Bush…Forget the Tuesday resignation, Bobby Petrino should have been fired on the spot after punting on 4th and 10 down by 20 points with 2:15 left on the clock. You are trying to tell me that decision gave Atlanta the best chance of winning that game? Good riddance…It’s safe to say Arthur Blank’s MNF interview didn’t go over so well…Believe it or not, Drew Brees has thrown just three fewer TD passes this season compared to last with three more games still to play.

NFL Power Rankings

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

1. New England Patriots
2. Indianapolis Colts
3. Dallas Cowboys

4. Green Bay Packers
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
7. Seattle Seahawks
8. Minnesota Vikings
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10. New York Giants
11. San Diego Chargers
12. Cleveland Browns

13. Denver Broncos
14. Tennessee Titans
15. Buffalo Bills
16. Houston Texans
17. New Orleans Saints
18. Philadelphia Eagles
19. Arizona Cardinals
20. Washington Redskins
21. Detroit Lions

22. Cincinnati Bengals
23. Chicago Bears
24. Baltimore Ravens
25. New York Jets
26. Oakland Raiders
27. Kansas City Chiefs
28. Carolina Panthers
29. St. Louis Rams

30. Atlanta Falcons
31. San Francisco 49ers
32. Miami Dolphins

Barometer

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Check out this week’s edition of Risers & Fallers.

UNDEFEATED

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

Tonight, I have Mayweather over Hatton in a unanimous decision. Something like 116-112. I’d like to see Hatton win, and his style (body puncher) is actually a perfect fit against Pretty Boy. However, Mayweather is just so much faster and possibly the best defensive boxer ever. Hatton is going to have to knock him out – he doesn’t stand a chance if it gets to the cards, which it almost certainly will. Mayweather in yet another, mostly boring, decision. Thoughts?

Bet on It

Friday, December 7th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

Like all good things, my prognosication superiority came to an abrupt end last week, with a season-worst 5-11 record. I actually liked last week’s slate, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it resulted in poor results. Most of the time, it’s the picks that make me ill that come through. Still, my overall season record stands at 96-87-9, and that was before my Thursday night Redskins winning pick. There have been six Thursday games this season, and every single time the favorite has covered. Onto the Week 14 picks:

Bears +3 at Redskins

Panthers +10.5 at Jaguars

Cowboys -11 at Lions

Dolphins +7 at Bills

Giants +3 at Eagles

Raiders +10.5 at Packers

Chargers pick ’em at Titans

Rams +7 at Bengals

Buccaneers -3 at Texans

Cardinals +7 at Seahawks

Vikings -8.5 at 49ers

Steelers +10.5 at Patriots

Browns -3.5 at Jets

Chiefs +7 at Broncos

Colts -9.5 at Ravens

Saints -4.5 at Falcons

Best Bet: Titans

Comments: Not exactly sure why the oddsmakers don’t view San Diego and Tennessee as equals, as the even line suggests the Chargers are the better team. Sure, they’ve outscored their opponents by a wider margin than the Titans have, but the Chargers play in the far easier division and have the same 7-5 record. SD is 2-4 on the road this season, while Tennessee is 4-2 at home. Back the Titans.

Week 14 Lineup Rankings

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

Quarterbacks

1. Tom Brady
2. Tony Romo
3. Carson Palmer
4. Derek Anderson

5. Peyton Manning
6. Matt Hasselbeck
7. Brett Favre
8. Drew Brees
9. Ben Roethlisberger
10. Marc Bulger (check status)

11. Donovan McNabb
12. David Garrard
13. Kurt Warner
14. Jay Cutler
15. Jon Kitna
16. Vince Young
17. Eli Manning
18. Chris Redman
19. Jeff Garcia (check status)
20. Tarvaris Jackson
21. Kellen Clemens
22. Jason Campbell
23. Rex Grossman
24. Philip Rivers
25. Josh McCown

Running Backs

1. Adrian Peterson
2. Brian Westbrook
3. Ryan Grant
4. Steven Jackson
5. LaDainian Tomlinson

6. Reggie Bush
7. Joseph Addai
8. Earnest Graham
9. Marion Barber
10. Marshawn Lynch/Fred Jackson
11. Rudi Johnson
12. Willis McGahee
13. Justin Fargas
14. Maurice Jones-Drew
15. Kolby Smith
16. Clinton Portis
17. Adrian Peterson (Chi)
18. Travis Henry
19. Jamal Lewis

20. Frank Gore
21. Jesse Chatman (check status)
22. Willie Parker
23. Thomas Jones
24. Brandon Jacobs/Reuben Droughns
25. LenDale White
26. Chester Taylor
27. Shaun Alexander
28. Edgerrin James
29. Kevin Jones
30. Warrick Dunn/Jerious Norwood
31. Fred Taylor
32. Selvin Young
33. Ron Dayne
34. Laurence Maroney
35. DeShaun Foster
36. Julius Jones
37. Maurice Morris
38. DeAngelo Williams
39. Chris Brown
40. Kenny Watson

Wide Receivers

1. Terrell Owens
2. Randy Moss
3. Braylon Edwards
4. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
5. Chad Johnson

6. Reggie Wayne
7. Torry Holt
8. Larry Fitzgerald (check status)
9. Andre Johnson
10. Marques Colston
11. Wes Welker

12. Brandon Marshall
13. Greg Jennings
14. Joey Galloway
15. Roddy White
16. Deion Branch
17. Bobby Engram
18. Laveranues Coles (check status)
19. Lee Evans
20. Hines Ward
21. Steve Smith

22. Plaxico Burress
23. Chris Henry
24. Bernard Berrian
25. Donald Driver
26. Calvin Johnson
27. Kevin Curtis
28. Santonio Holmes
29. Derrick Mason
30. Santana Moss
31. Patrick Crayton
32. Isaac Bruce
33. Shaun McDonald
34. Dwayne Bowe
35. Anthony Gonzalez
36. Mike Furrey
37. Ronald Curry
38. Reggie Brown
39. Amani Toomer
40. Chris Chambers

Wednesday Morning Quarterback

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

Chris Redman, Tyler Thigpen, Luke McCown, Trent Dilfer, Vinny Testaverde, Gus Frerotte, Josh McCown and Sage Rosenfels all saw significant snaps from the quarterback position Sunday, as more and more teams struggle with the most important spot on the field. Speaking of which, how was Luke McCown behind Bruce Gradkowski on the depth chart to begin with? Is the QB position really THAT hard to evaluate during practice? Considering Cleveland started Charlie Frye over Derek Anderson to begin the year, and Tom Brady and Tony Romo may still be backups if not for injuries/ineptitude, apparently it is.

Words can’t describe how truly awful Trent Dilfer was Sunday…With a more innovative approach installed in making sure he touches the ball, Steve Smith is going to be a fantasy factor from here on out…Frank Gore managing 111 yards while playing behind such a despicable offense is a testament to how truly special of a back he is.

While the timing was suspect, the Jaguars clearly made the right choice in picking David Garrard over Byron Leftwich. Jacksonville is still no better than the fourth team in the AFC, but Garrard’s emergence (7.9 YPA) really makes this team interesting moving forward…As leader of the MJD bandwagon, I’ll be the first to admit Fred Taylor has exceeded my expectations this year…Hopefully, Reggie Wayne’s big season can officially end the silly debate regarding whether it’s good or bad to have a strong WR on the opposite side. More targets = more production…Anthony Gonzalez was held to just one catch Sunday, but he was stopped just short of the end zone once and had another TD called back by penalty. I’d be surprised if Marvin Harrison returns during the regular season, so treat Gonzalez as a sneaky flex play right now.

Call me crazy, but not only is Kolby Smith a big upgrade over Priest Holmes, but I actually think he’s looked better than the 2007 version of Larry Johnson…Rare does a player record two sacks and score an offensive touchdown in the same game but so was the case with Jared Allen Sunday…LaDainian Tomlinson is having a fine fantasy season, but consistency hasn’t been a theme. He’s gotten 48 percent of his total rushing yards and 64 percent of his total rushing TDs for the year during three games this season.

The Dolphins are really risking becoming the first 0-16 team in league history by starting John Beck the rest of the season. That said, it’s the right thing to do. It gives him valuable experience and the team a better chance at the No. 1 pick in the draft…If you go to Yahoo’s boxscore for the Jets/Dolphins game, listed under Miami’s “top performer,” you’ll find this: Lorenzo Booker – 1 rush, 6 yds…In hindsight, maybe an 0-11 team shouldn’t have been favored last week…When asked if he minded someone else joining his 1972 undefeated club, former Dolphin Mercury Morris responded: “A husband always needs a wife.” Bravo, Morris, bravo.

The Vikings outrushed the Lions last week 216 to 23…If I were in a keeper-league, I’d trade my entire roster for Adrian Peterson…I hate to jump on everyone’s new favorite bandwagon team, but Minnesota does become interesting with the way Tarvaris Jackson has played of late.

As someone who watches way too much television, this writers strike is killing me, as I can’t take another week without “The Office,” which has become the best non-cable sitcom since “Seinfeld.” Although the British version is better, however.

Despite Donovan McNabb’s mediocrity, there will be no QB controversy in Philly after A.J. Feeley’s brutal performance Sunday. How can someone look so good the week before, yet so awful seven days later?…I’ve heard more than a few people talk about how much better Shaun Alexander ran Sunday, but those pesky stats certainly reveal otherwise. So did my own two eyes.

I don’t care if Jerious Norwood blocks as poorly as I would, he simply has to see the majority of carries from here on out. When carrying the football this season on a per play basis, he’s gotten literally twice as many yards as Warrick Dunn…Roddy White is currently one of the best wide receivers in the league. Now, if only Atlanta can find someone to throw to him.

For some reason, I find Chris Brown as one of the more exciting guys to watch run the football. He must have been told to watch his posture quite a bit as a kid, as the guy could not run more upright. Very awkward looking…Matt Schaub’s laundry list of injuries this season has become a long-term concern…That’s three straight impressive games passing by Vince Young…Mario Williams is officially the more valuable commodity than Reggie Bush.

“Detlef Schrempf” by Band of Horses has to be one of my favorites songs of the year.

The Redskins have allowed an NFL-best two runs of 20 yards or more this year. One came when the team opened with just 10 men on the field to honor Sean Taylor last week…What more can be said about Joe Gibbs calling back-to-back timeouts at this point? It’s safe to say his legacy has been tarnished.

I was dead wrong regarding Jamal Lewis’ fantasy value this season…Regarding the game-ending Kellen Winslow play – why in the world is the shoved out of bounds rule not able to be reviewed? That seems like one that an extra look would be especially useful, and it’s not quite the same judgment call like pass interference either.

If a fantasy draft were held today, Justin Fargas would be a first round pick…I understand why they don’t, but it sure would be interesting to see Denver select a RB high in the draft.

Why are referees always so reluctant to call safeties? Luke McCown was tackled about three yards in the end zone Sunday, and they huddled for five minutes before making the right call…Is there anyone more annoying than Mike Greenberg?…If previews for the upcoming final season of “The Wire,” with the teaser “McNulty is drinking again,” don’t get your heartbeat racing with excitement, I suggest you take a long look in the mirror and re-evaluate your life.

Chicago leads the NFL in drops this year, and none was more excruciating than Devin Hester’s Sunday…Speaking of, never has a special teams player affected games as much as Hester currently does. Joe Buck said the Giants won in part thanks to “controlling Devin Hester.” Well, it’s easy to control him when half of your second half kickoffs go out of bounds…The Bears scored a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time all season last week.

If there’s a more disappointing player in the NFL this year than Willie Parker, I can’t think of him…Chad Johnson running a 14-yard out and then stepping out of bounds voluntarily on a fourth and 17 play was a microcosm of this horrific, no-good, terrible Bengals team. The clueless look on his face at least gave dumbfounded Cincy fans some solace.

This Patriots defense is definitely vulnerable…Why choose the game versus Baltimore, who entered leading the league in YPC against, to run Laurence Maroney so much? I try not to make a habit of questioning Bill Belichick, however, as maybe Tom Brady’s health was of more concern Monday…Speaking of Monday Night Football and ESPN, Emmitt Smith has gone from butt of the joke to utterly unwatchable. I seriously cringe watching him butcher the English language. By all accounts and purposes, he’s a nice guy. But please, someone put him (and me) out of our misery.

Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball, but whoever comes away with Erik Bedard will be the big winners of the Hot Stove League. He’s younger, cheaper and a left-hander who was leading the league in strikeouts while pitching in the AL East before going down to injury last year, which ended up limiting his innings. He also won’t cost nearly as much in return to get him, especially after he essentially said he’s done pitching in Baltimore after his contract expires. If Bedard gets dealt to the NL, I will be drafting him in the first round of fantasy leagues this year.

I’m a big fan of Alex Rios’ potential, but if Brian Sabean trades Tim Lincecum for him, I’m officially finished rooting for the Giants. I’m standing on the ledge as is. I’m 95 percent certain I could be a better GM, and I’m not kidding or suffering from delusions of grandeur.

Barometer

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Here are this week’s Risers & Fallers.