Archive for September, 2010

Podcast

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Check it out here. Or download it through iTunes here.

The Scoop

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Jimmy Clausen was pretty bad during his NFL debut, but Carson Palmer might have been even worse. He leads the league in passes that should have been intercepted but weren’t. He’s gotten just 5.8 YPA despite a strong WR corps and facing two defenses that have not played well this season (NE and CAR). If not for a Jonathan Stewart fumble, Sunday’s outcome could have been very different…I fear for Clausen’s safety if he doesn’t start targeting Steve Smith more in the future…Sunday’s touchdown reception was the first of Cedric Benson’s career. Still, he’s getting just 3.1 YPC. Call me crazy, but I’d rather own Peyton Hillis moving forward.

The Patriots have given up 27.2 points per game, yielding 7.5 YPA and an NFL-high seven scores through the air. They have allowed opposing passers to accrue a 101.3 QB rating, despite facing the Bengals, Jets and Bills. This New England defense looks like a real weakness…That should actually be good news for Tom Brady owners, as the team will be forced to throw plenty, and he’s certainly enjoying his two new young tight ends…BenJarvus Green-Ellis is an obvious must-own in all leagues…At this point, a Marshawn Lynch trade to Green Bay makes so much sense, as long as Buffalo is reasonable (hardly a guarantee)…Brady is on pace to finish the season with 4,043 passing yards, yet Wes Welker and Randy Moss somehow have combined for just 286 yards over three games. That’s nuts.

The 49ers’ schedule has actually been relatively tough so far and they are staring 0-4 right in the face with a trip to Atlanta on Sunday, but this team has been hugely disappointing anyway you shape it. All three other NFC West teams won last week, and the team resorted to firing its offensive coordinator. Remember though, eight wins might legitimately win this division, and their schedule really eases up over the second half. I wonder what kind of odds you could get for them winning the NFC West entering Week 5 with an 0-4 record…The Chiefs are no fluke and could push the Chargers until the end, with a strong rookie class and a rushing attack that actually leads the NFL with 160.7 yards per game. Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel have plenty of flaws as head coaches, but they are good coordinators. With an easy schedule and one of the best home-field advantages in football, Kansas City is back on the map. Still, quarterback remains a big worry. Don’t forget Matt Cassel’s 45-yard touchdown to Dwayne Bowe came on a trick play, and another score came on possibly the catch of the year by Tony Moeaki…After Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles is in the conversation as best back in football. Only Todd Haley prevents him from being in this conversation in fantasy terms…He’ll probably get hurt, but Frank Gore could be in store for a truly monstrous season – he’s currently on pace to finish with 2,112 yards, 117 catches and 11 touchdowns. And again, the schedule is extremely easy over the second half of the year. He’s clearly the No. 3 back in PPR formats…Not cool Shaun Smith, not cool at all.

Last week’s fumble was costly, but lost in the Giants’ disappointing start to the season is Ahmad Bradshaw emerging as a top-15 fantasy back. He’s averaged 19.7 touches per game, and that number should only increase moving forward when the team plays better, and since Brandon Jacobs has averaged just 3.5 YPC. Remember, Bradshaw averaged 5.4 yards-per-touch last season while playing on two bum wheels, so he could prove to be plenty productive even if that number stays around 20. Target Bradshaw now before it becomes even more obvious just how valuable he can be…The interceptions are a concern, as is the team’s defense, but Eli Manning has completed 65.7% of his passes and gotten 7.9 YPA, which is highly encouraging. Sunday’s score against the Titans was misleading – don’t go writing off the Giants just yet…Chris Johnson has averaged just 4.0 YPC and his involvement in the passing game has been way down so far, but he’s faced the Steelers (2.6 YPC against) and is on pace to score 21 touchdowns. Owners have no reason to complain and should expect even more production moving forward.

Nice to see Joe Flacco live up to some of the preseason hype, and there’s no doubt he played well Sunday. Maybe this is a contrarian view, but I’d be selling Anquan Boldin high right now. No other receiver in the history of the NFL has averaged more yards per game (79.7), and he’s not sharing targets with another elite WR like Larry Fitzgerald anymore, but Boldin has scored double-digit touchdowns just once during his career, previously had a Hall of Fame quarterback throwing to him in a much easier division defensively and is definitely an injury concern, having played a full season just once over the past six years…Conversely, I’d be trying to buy Ray Rice low right now…The Browns are 0-3, but their losses have come against teams with a combined record of 7-2, and they’ve lost by an average of just 4.0 points per game…Baltimore’s defense has taken a step back this season, but it’s hard not to like what Peyton Hillis did Sunday. He’s not going to break many long runs and who knows if he can be durable with such a bruising style, but Hillis is a beast, rarely going down at first contact. Jerome Harrison will take away some touches once he returns, but Hillis has clearly established himself as Cleveland’s lead back, and he’s already racked up 14 receptions. He’s suddenly a top-20ish fantasy back.

LeGarrette Blount needs to be added in all fantasy leagues. He’s already locked down short-yardage work, and with Carnell Williams averaging a putrid 2.5 YPC (while also remaining a huge injury risk), Blount’s role in the offense should expand moving forward, assuming he can improve in pass protection. Preseason sleeper Kareem Huggins could also enter the mix, but Blount is the most talented back on Tampa Bay’s roster and seems to have really impressed coach Raheem Morris. The Bucs’ schedule is highly favorable after the bye, so Blount could prove to be a difference maker…Amazing what Pittsburgh has done with that QB situation. It blows my mind Vegas pegged this team with an over/under of 8.5 wins before the season…With Tampa Bay down 38-6 in the fourth quarter at the Pittsburgh 36-yard line, coach Raheem Morris decided to punt on 4th and 2. You can’t make this stuff up.

The Saints’ two wins this season have come against two teams with a combined 1-5 record, and both victories were close. Don’t get me wrong, New Orleans could have easily won Sunday, and the team is still strong, but they’ve predictably taken a step back compared to last year’s version. The secondary has allowed 7.6 YPA and all those turnovers they forced in 2009 was in no way sustainable…It looks like Lance Moore is the biggest beneficiary of Reggie Bush’s injury, but it’s become futile trying to predict which receiver produces on a weekly basis. Only Marques Colston can be used for fantasy purposes…Up three points and faced with a 4th and 6 at the Saints’ 37-yard line with 3:42 left in the fourth quarter, I applaud coach Mike Smith’s aggressive decision to go for it, even if they didn’t convert.

Detroit entered Sunday having allowed 8.6 YPA, so it was discouraging to see Brett Favre throw two more picks and get just 5.9 YPA while playing at home. Minnesota is the rare team that welcomes a bye so early in the season…Adrian Peterson has already been targeted 18 times in the passing game. He’s primed for a career-year…As a Jahvid Best owner, this toe injury is quite worrisome, especially for a back who relies so much on speed. These tend to linger and can easily be aggravated. It would be tough to sit him, but Best is a risky start in Green Bay this week.

Nice to see Roy Williams show a pulse, but this Houston secondary is a real weakness. The Texans have allowed 9.1 YPA with six scores through the air, and they are one of only three teams yet to record an interception (the Ravens and Bills are the others)…Andre Johnson is as tough as it gets, but his ankle sprain appears to be a legitimate injury. A banged up Johnson could be in for a long day matched up with Nnamdi Asomugha on Sunday…Arian Foster became the first running back to gain 100 rushing yards against the Cowboys since 2008. He’s here to stay.

The Jaguars have allowed 66 points over the past two weeks and are nearly double-digit underdogs to the Colts on Sunday. A coaching change looks imminent…Maurice Jones-Drew looked better last week, but if he doesn’t turn in a big game at home against Indy this week, it’s officially time to panic. After scoring 16 touchdowns over the first 14 games last season, he has been held out of the end zone in each of the past five contests…LeSean McCoy should turn in a nice season, but it’s discouraging to see him get just 11 carries in a game the Eagles won 28-3. He’s a strong RB2, but that usage prevents him from becoming an RB1…Both of Michael Vick’s last two games came against possibly the two worst secondaries in football, but he’s looked fantastic. While there was some concern how DeSean Jackson would perform with Kevin Kolb in a more traditional West Coast offense, Vick’s skill set is actually like Donovan McNabb’s (lacking accuracy but attacking downfield), so the previous worries have proven moot. No fantasy QB has as much upside as Vick.

Santana Moss hasn’t missed a game since 2007, but he’s often suffered nagging hamstring injuries that have sapped his explosiveness, so he might be a sell-high candidate right now. But it’s only a health issue, because his performance so far is real. With such an improvement at quarterback in a better offensive system and with virtually no viable wide receivers competing for targets, Moss could approach his monstrous 2005 season (1,483 yards, nine TDs)…Mark Clayton looks like a rock solid WR2 moving forward…Forget all the Keiland Williams sleeper talk, apparently Ryan Torain is the Washington back to add in fantasy leagues. Something is clearly not right with Clinton Portis, who watched from the sidelines over the second half of last week’s game. Torain might be the biggest injury risk in the league, but he’s always had legit talent, and Mike Shanahan was there when Denver drafted him. Torain is a serious sleeper to have major value down the road.

Despite struggling in the red zone, Kyle Orton continued to impress last week. He’s gotten 8.6 YPA so far, which is unbelievable with Brandon Marshall out of town. It’s worth noting Orton is entering a tough three-game stretch (@TEN, @BAL, NYJ), but the schedule is extremely easy after that. He’s a QB1…Forget about relying on any of the four Denver receivers on a weekly basis. That situation is musical chairs…Austin Collie is on pace to finish the season with 144 catches, 1,915 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns. Odds are he falls a little short of that pace, but I don’t feel smart targeting Pierre Garcon at fantasy drafts this summer…I’m beginning to think Peyton Manning makes his receivers and not vice-versa.

Come on, Seabass, you’ve got to be kidding me with that miss. He already has five misses this season after shanking just three all of last year…At this point, only health can prevent Darren McFadden from producing a huge fantasy season…Going from Kurt Warner to Derek Anderson is like NBC replacing “Parks and Recreation” with “Outsourced”…During CBS’ broadcast Sunday, Randy Cross (or maybe it was his partner) said Oakland was “rolling the dice” going for it on 4th and 10 with a 1:09 left. They did not have all of their timeouts. What a gamble!

With poor run blocking, a middling defense and what appears to be the worst special teams unit in football, Philip Rivers may be asked to throw more than ever, which is huge news for fantasy owners. This might have been my favorite sequence Sunday: Rivers 12-yard TD pass to Antonio Gates. Called back by penalty. Very next play – Rivers 12-yard TD pass to Gates. Then, 2pt attempt converted, Rivers pass to Legedu Naanee. Called back by penalty. Very next play – 2pt attempt converted, Rivers pass to Naanee…With 22 seconds left in the first half at the Chargers’ 2-yard line, Seattle spiked the ball on second down. Then they called a QB sneak with no timeouts left the very next play, which proved to be the last of the half. Not good.

Over three games against the Jets during his career, Chad Henne has gotten 7.9 YPA with a 5:1 TD:INT ratio. He’s gotten 6.2 YPA with a 10:14 TD:INT ratio over his other 15 games versus the rest of the league…Crazy how good Mark Sanchez has been after looking so awful Week 1. Dustin Keller has been a fantasy steal…Interesting analysis regarding whether the Jets should have gone for two Sunday.

I feel sorry for owners who lost Ryan Grant and then used a bunch of their FAAB to acquire Brandon Jackson. That’s a double whammy…I fully expect Greg Jennings to have some big games this year, but there are way too many mouths to feed in that Green Bay offense. Despite the superior quarterback situation, he’s in a far worse situation than other receivers like Roddy White and Brandon Marshall, who will dominate targets. Jermichael Finley might actually be the Packers’ No. 1 receiver…Over his last five games, Jay Cutler has posted a 14:3 TD:INT ratio. His current 9.6 YPA mark easily leads the NFL…The final minute of Monday night’s game has likely been beaten to death at this point, but it was truly mind-boggling to see each team be so stupid. Not only should Green Bay obviously have let them score, but what was Chicago thinking not just taking a knee? For once, Matt Forte’s ineptitude at the goal line was actually helpful. I already tweeted this (and yes, that was a shameless attempt of trying to get you to start following me), but forget the Packers, the biggest loser Monday night was common sense.

And now, since I’m actually going to a The Black Keys concert Wednesday night, here’s this:

Bet on It

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 7-8-1, bringing my season record to 16-14-2. I lost my best bet, so I’m 1-1 there. Onto the Week 3 picks:

49ers (Best Bet) -2 at Chiefs

Bengals -3 at PANTHERS

Browns +11 at RAVENS

LIONS +11.5 at Vikings

Titans +3 at GIANTS

STEELERS -2.5 at Buccaneers

FALCONS +3.5 at Saints

BILLS +14.5 at Patriots

COWBOYS +3 at Texans

REDSKINS -3.5 at Rams

Eagles -3 at JAGUARS

Chargers -5.5 at SEAHAWKS

Colts -6 at BRONCOS

RAIDERS +4 at Cardinals

Jets +1.5 at DOLPHINS

Packers -3 at BEARS

Comments: Not one “best bet” jumped out at me this week, and I know I’m taking the sucker side with S.F. – a road favorite coming off a short week after playing Monday night.

Podcast

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Check it out here. Or download it through iTunes here.

The Scoop

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

With what appears to be the best defense in football, imagine how tough this Steelers team is going to be when Ben Roethlisberger returns. They should be considered legitimate Super Bowl contenders…I would say Pittsburgh is in big trouble with Charlie Batch at QB this week, but Dennis Dixon managed just 3.0 YPA in his limited work Sunday, and Mike Wallace led the team with two receptions and 25 receiving yards. Of course, that’s not exactly a sustainable method…It’s safe to say Week 2 will easily go down as Chris Johnson’s worst fantasy performance of 2010.

Ray Rice was a shoelace away from a 70-yard touchdown run last week (instead settling for 30 yards), and after getting underused against the Bengals, expect him to go off at home against the Browns…Baltimore is coming off a loss and could conceivably be 0-2, but its defense has yet to allow a touchdown this season. Joe Flacco will get better…Maybe Carson Palmer should have had Tommy John surgery after all. Seriously, there’s something wrong.

I’ve hammered home just how easily replaceable running backs are, overusing the word “fungible” in the process, but there are exceptions. The difference between Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith is undeniably drastic, as the former looks like a true difference maker in the backfield. Hopefully that sprinter speed also translates away from home and on grass, but what a weapon as a receiver. The fact he’s already locked down goal-line work makes him a fantasy goldmine. He should be considered a top-12 back right now…Seems like the only time Detroit makes a conscious effort to get Calvin Johnson the ball is late in games when playing from behind. Might want to start doing so earlier…LeSean McCoy appears to be Philadelphia’s workhorse, so big numbers should follow. His value isn’t far behind Best’s…It was a favorable matchup and the turf helps his speed, but hard to deny just how impressive Michael Vick was Sunday, showing improved accuracy, especially on his deep ball. And the wheels are officially back. Should be fun to see what he can do in that system and with such dangerous weapons at his disposal. My apologies for recommending Kevin Kolb this summer. Still can’t believe the Philadelphia Daily News used this headline…What a ridiculous backdoor cover for those who had Philly -4.5.

If you’re giving up an 80-yard touchdown run to Tim Hightower, it’s safe to say the back of your defense lacks speed. Still, what an impressive performance by Atlanta. I was so close to using them in my survivor pool, yet wussed out at the last second and burned Green Bay…Who would you rather own in fantasy leagues right now, Larry Fitzgerald or Roddy White?…I still expect a monster season from Michael Turner, but owners who also have Jason Snelling might not necessarily hate a serious Turner injury. Snelling could be Turner plus a bunch of catches. Poor Turner owners were robbed of what was sure to be a huge game last week.

I’m starting to wonder whether this year’s Vikings team is as good as last year’s version. Seriously, can you imagine how upset Brett Favre is that he returned to this mess? What is going on with Percy Harvin? A trade for Vincent Jackson would have helped a team so pot committed, but GM A.J. “The Lord of No Rings” Smith was his usual stubborn self…Brandon Marshall owners catch a huge break with Darrelle Revis (hamstring) sidelined in Week 3…If Ronnie Brown had just a little more speed, he would have had a 99-yard touchdown run Sunday…Adrian Peterson, what a beast. Such an awesome back to watch play.

While Jerome Harrison owners were happy to see him get twice the amount of carries as Peyton Hillis, he lost a fumble and got just 2.1 YPC. Hillis, meanwhile, got 4.4 YPC, and his one-yard touchdown run was highly impressive. Now Harrison is dealing with a thigh injury, which could open the door for an even bigger opportunity for Hillis, although he’ll have a tough time taking advantage of it against Baltimore…Speaking of timeshares, if Todd Haley doesn’t start getting Jamaal Charles more touches, I’ll be actively rooting for his firing…Time to step up and actually make a play Dwayne Bowe. Are you really going to be a fantasy bust back-to-back seasons?

It’s obviously still early, and I’m not surprised by the Bucs’ improvement, but it appears I was dead wrong about the Panthers this season. What an embarrassing home opener coming off a loss. The run blocking has been a major disappointment. Jonathan Stewart simply can’t be used in fantasy leagues right now…Over the first two games of the season, Josh Freeman has recorded a 4:1 TD:INT ratio and posted a 95.0 QB rating. Accuracy issues remain, but that’s quite impressive for a QB coming off a thumb injury who didn’t get much work over the preseason. But the bigger news for fantasy owners is that he’s also gained 77 yards on the ground. With an improved team surrounding him, further development during his second year in the league, and rookie WR Mike Williams looking like a star in the making, Freeman could prove to be a sneaky fantasy option. He won’t be worth using over the next two weeks (facing Pittsburgh and then a bye), but the schedule looks highly favorable after that.

With the worst quarterback and offensive line combo/situation in the NFL, it was perplexing when Buffalo used the ninth pick of the draft to select C.J. Spiller. So it’s positively mind-boggling to watch the team give him just one carry compared to 26 to Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson combined. It might also make some sense to throw Lee Evans’ way a couple of times too. This organization needs to clean house, top to bottom…So maybe Brandon Jackson isn’t going to be a fantasy monster. He can still be plenty valuable in that offense with 12-15 carries and 3-5 catches per week, which seems reasonable. But his first opportunity as starter – and the quotes from the coaching staff afterward – were definitely a downer.

I’m not sure there’s a receiver I’d rather own in fantasy leagues than Miles Austin. Although hopefully rumors of him and Kim Kardashian breaking up don’t rock the boat!…Matt Forte has 79 yards rushing over two games, getting 2.9 YPC. He has 188 receiving yards, with all three of his scores coming through the air. While that type of distribution will obviously change eventually, expect more of the same Monday night against the Packers, whose YPC against is totally skewed by facing Michael Vick…I’m finished trying to make sense of the Bears’ WR situation after what happened to Devin Aromashodu last week. I’m cautiously optimistic about Johnny Knox, but after him, it’s a crapshoot…Jay Cutler has accrued a 118.1 QB rating over his last four regular season games. That’s impressive. Who knows if the turnovers will start coming in bunches, but this guy’s upside is off the charts…With Dez Bryant (rib) banged up as well as Jason Witten (concussion) in what looks like a possible shootout in Houston, Roy Williams is a sneaky play in deeper leagues this week. He remains a top option inside the red zone…The offensive line has been a major problem, but what’s up with Felix Jones? Is he Steve Slaton 2.0? Maybe it’s not a great idea to put on 15 pounds during the offseason when your main weapon is speed…I still say the Cowboys make the playoffs.

Knowshon Moreno has averaged just 2.8 YPC this season, but since he’s getting treated as a true feature back who catches passes and dominates goal-line carries, he’s going to be a highly valuable fantasy commodity. He should improve the further removed he is from his preseason hamstring injury…Matt Hasselbeck already has two rushing scores this season. He entered the year without a TD run since 2005. He also has thrown a whopping 13 interceptions over his past five games… Demaryius Thomas somehow caught eight passes for 97 yards and a score during his NFL debut Sunday, which was highly impressive for a rookie wide receiver yet to see real game action. It looks like his foot injury is behind him, and while his targets might be inconsistent week-to-week, Thomas’ talent is apparent, and he’s already the most dangerous weapon on Denver’s offense. With game-breaking speed, an easy schedule and weak competition for looks, Thomas is set up for success, even as a rookie coming off an injury and coming from a gimmicky college system. Burn your FAAB to get him…Kyle Orton has quietly become a more than competent NFL quarterback, completing 67.6% of his passes while getting 8.9 YPA this season. Last year he approached 4,000 passing yards with 21 passing TDs while learning a new system and dealing with an ankle injury, and the loss of Brandon Marshall could be offset by utilizing Eddie Royal correctly and the emergence of Thomas (remember, Orton threw for 431 yards in Week 17 last year when Marshall was inactive). He’s no doubt benefited from an easy schedule so far, but that won’t change much over the rest of the season facing both the AFC and NFC West. Orton has looked extremely impressive on the field – don’t ignore him. He’s a top-15 fantasy QB right now (I prefer him over Brett Favre and Carson Palmer).

I never considered Jason Campbell good, but I thought he was around league average, but it looks like all the past excuses of having a different offensive coordinator every year wasn’t the problem. Sure, it’s a small sample, but Bruce Gradkowski appears to be Oakland’s best option, and the upgrade in Washington with Donovan McNabb over Campbell might be similarly as drastic as any QB over JaMarcus Russell in Oakland…Nnamdi Asomugha shut down Mark Clayton while mostly shadowing him Sunday, ceding zero receptions all game, so why was he not covering him during Clayton’s two catches, both of which went for touchdowns?…Darren McFadden – workhorse who breaks tackles? An injury is probably around the corner, but Michael Bush owners are out of luck otherwise. This is McFadden’s backfield in Oakland right now. He still has a little ways to go to justify being drafted ahead of Chris Johnson, however…Darrius Heyward-Bey – seven catches, 91 yards. Michael Crabtree – three catches, 44 yards. Take that 49ers!

Jacksonville and San Diego combined for nine turnovers Sunday, but what was even sadder was the Chargers not selling out their home opener. Are you kidding me?…I’m not making excuses for Ryan Mathews’ start to his NFL career, but it was a pretty brutal play by the defense that caused his injury, ripping his upper torso back while his feet were caught underneath basically after the play was dead. Hate to hear the “high-ankle” term now being used. Mike Tolbert wouldn’t be a bad replacement though – he lacks the same breakaway speed and overall talent, but he’d get the majority of touches and the goal-line work, something even Mathews was unlikely to receive…Maybe his previous knee injury or recent ankle problem is a contributing factor, and it’s usually best not to overreact to a two-game sample, but Maurice Jones-Drew is killing fantasy owners who spent such a high pick on him. He totaled just 48 yards in a blowout loss Sunday and watched from the sidelines as backup Rashad Jennings played better over most of the second half. Jones-Drew lost a fumble and isn’t getting utilized as a receiver like in the past. This is not a good Jaguars team. I’d easily prefer Ray Rice, Frank Gore or Michael Turner over Jones-Drew. Probably even Arian Foster…Over his last 10 road games, David Garrard has posted a 5:11 TD:INT ratio.

I was high on the Patriots entering the season and bragged a bit after their impressive Week 1 performance, so let me eat some crow after their defense allowed Mark Sanchez to complete 70 percent of his passes with a 3:0 TD:INT ratio and a 124.3 QB rating…What a sick catch by Randy Moss…After Braylon Edwards was flagged for a “taunting” penalty after he scored a second quarter touchdown, he berated the cornerback in a similar manner after catching a two-point conversion in the third quarter. He later was arrested ON CHARGES of (I can’t believe how many potentially libelous headlines have been used in this situation) drunken driving, just days after the Jets introduced a car service for players. Edwards might not have the best hands in the league, but his decision-making is even worse…Maybe New England’s backfield remains a committee throughout the season, but Laurence Maroney was recently traded to Denver, and Kevin Faulk was just lost for the season with a knee injury. Fred Taylor is dealing with a toe injury (he was barely used at all during the second half last week) and is 34 years old. Sammy Morris is 33 years old. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is worth stashing right now.

The Washington/Houston game was one of the better in recent memory. The two teams combined for 871 net passing yards (counting sacks), which was the fourth most in NFL history…With the release of Larry Johnson, Keiland Williams suddenly looks like the top backup in the Redskins’ backfield. He’s yet to receive a carry, but Williams was used extensively in passing situations last week down the stretch, so the team must trust his blocking ability. Clinton Portis scored twice, but he’s averaging an ugly 3.1 YPC on the season and is dealing with a wrist injury. Portis has surpassed 2,200 career carries and has lost all of his burst, so he’s a back in major decline. In an offense that looks invigorated with Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb in town, Williams could be a difference maker once he’s given an opportunity…Speaking of Washington’s awful rushing attack, that could lead to big numbers from McNabb, who’s looked sharp so far. Him, Santana Moss and Chris Cooley should all be huge profits in fantasy leagues barring health…Here’s a rule that I’ve never heard complained about that drives me crazy – why does the game clock restart after a false start? Houston (who wasn’t trying to take advantage of this behind in the fourth quarter, but I could easily see a scenario when a team with the lead SHOULD just keep making false starts. They could essentially run 70 (infinite?) seconds off the clock while running just one play) lost a good 20 seconds Sunday because of this absurd rule…If you want good analysis about Gary Kubiak’s decision to punt in overtime, go here.

Ahmad Bradshaw has yet to go off, but with Brandon Jacobs looking as sluggish as ever (last year’s knee excuse know sounds lame) and further putting himself in the Giants’ doghouse by throwing his helmet into the stands Sunday night, Bradshaw’s going to be a major asset moving forward…I’ve been wrong before, but I still consider Pierre Garcon a buy-low target right now…Joseph Addai has always been injury-prone, and if his latest knee problem proves serious, Donald Brown owners just hit the jackpot.

Normally underdog home teams in primetime often are the ones who receive the “lucky breaks,” so considering the 49ers dealt with a minus-four turnover disadvantage (based on two tipped balls (one was an errant Alex Smith throw) and two fumbles (random events)), it’s hard to quantify just how much San Francisco outplayed New Orleans on Monday night…Mike Singletary’s quote from last week was simply brilliant: “Don’t base an entire man’s career on a dad-gum Yahoo commercial.”…Pierre Thomas has gotten just 3.2 YPC so far this year, but more importantly, he’s averaged 24.0 touches per game, so he’s been far more involved in New Orleans’ offense compared to last season. His schedule really eases up moving forward, and the loss of Reggie Bush (leg) should lead to even more touches. Go ahead and safely consider Thomas an RB1…The 49ers aren’t the best 0-2 team in football (that would be the Cowboys), but they still should be viewed as the favorites to win the NFC West.

I’m posting this not because of Bo Burnham (whom I know nothing about, although this song is very clever, and he’s apparently very popular), but because my friend made the music video.

NFL Barometer

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

RISERS

Jahvid Best, RB, DET – Best totaled 232 yards and scored three touchdowns last week, giving him five scores already. It remains to be seen if he can stay healthy over a full NFL season, but being so involved as a receiver, Best can be plenty productive even with 15-20 carries a game. It’s huge news he’s already locked down goal-line work, and few players in the league can match Best’s speed. He looks like a truly special running back who would be a borderline first round pick if a draft were held today.

Michael Vick, QB, PHI – Vick picked apart a poor Detroit secondary last week, throwing for 284 yards and two touchdowns while not committing a turnover. He continued to show improved accuracy (61.8%) and renewed speed, rushing for 37 yards as well. Vick’s fantasy day could have been even bigger had LeSean McCoy (another player who deserves an upgrade) not scored three times on the ground. As a result, Vick has been named the Eagles’ starting quarterback, sending Kevin Kolb to the bench. With tremendous weapons around him and in a terrific system, Vick needs to be considered a QB1 in fantasy leagues, because even in games he’ll struggle throwing the ball, his ability to run keeps his floor high enough. And Vick’s ceiling is quite high.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN – Thomas somehow caught eight passes for 97 yards and a score during his NFL debut Sunday, which was highly impressive for a rookie wide receiver yet to see real game action. It looks like his foot injury is behind him, and while his targets should be inconsistent week-to-week, Thomas’ talent is apparent, and he’s already the most dangerous weapon on Denver’s offense. Kyle Orton has quietly become a more than competent NFL quarterback, completing 67.6% of his passes while getting 8.9 YPA this season, which also bodes well for Thomas moving forward. With game-breaking speed, an easy schedule and little competition for looks (downgrade Jabar Gaffney), Thomas is set up for success, even as a rookie coming off an injury and coming from a gimmicky college system. Burn your FAAB to get him.

Pierre Thomas, RB, NO – Thomas has gotten just 3.2 YPC so far this year, but more importantly, he’s averaged 24.0 touches per game, so he’s been far more involved in New Orleans’ offense compared to last season. His schedule really eases up now moving forward, and the loss of Reggie Bush (leg) should lead to even more touches. Go ahead and safely consider Thomas an RB1.

Jason Snelling, RB, ATL – Thanks to a Michael Turner groin injury, Snelling was given an opportunity Sunday, and he more than took advantage of it. He totaled 186 yards and scored three times against a helpless Arizona defense. Snelling will again be mostly an afterthought when Turner is healthy (which he’s expected to be Week 3), but with Jerious Norwood out for the season with a torn ACL and considering Sunday’s performance, he’s clearly the second option in Atlanta’s backfield. It’s a good offensive system, and Snelling has proven to be quite skilled in his own right. Few backup runners in the NFL have his upside, so he must be owned in all fantasy leagues.

Josh Freeman, QB, TB – Over the first two games of the season, Freeman has recorded a 4:1 TD:INT ratio and posted a 95.0 QB rating. Accuracy issues remain, but that’s quite impressive for a QB coming off a thumb injury who didn’t get much work over the preseason. But the bigger news for fantasy owners is that he’s also gained 77 yards on the ground already. With an improved team surrounding him, further development in just his second year in the league, and rookie WR Mike Williams looking like a star in the making, Freeman could prove to be a sneaky fantasy option. He won’t be worth using over the next two weeks (facing Pittsburgh and then a bye), but the schedule looks highly favorable after that.

Keiland Williams, RB, WAS
– With the release of Larry Johnson, Williams suddenly looks like the top backup in the Redskins’ backfield. He’s yet to receive a carry, but Williams was used extensively in passing situations last week down the stretch, so the team must trust his blocking ability. Clinton Portis scored twice last week, but he’s averaging an ugly 3.1 YPC on the season and is dealing with a wrist injury. Portis has surpassed 2,200 career carries and has lost all burst, so he’s a back in major decline. In an offense that looks invigorated with Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb in town, Williams could be a difference maker once he’s given an opportunity.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, NE
– Maybe this backfield remains a committee throughout the season, but Laurence Maroney was recently traded to Denver, and Kevin Faulk was just lost for the season with a knee injury. Fred Taylor is dealing with a toe injury (he was barely used at all during the second half last week) and is 34 years old. Sammy Morris is 33 years old. Green-Ellis might be worth stashing.

FALLERS

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAX – There hasn’t been any news of his meniscus bothering him, and it’s usually best not to overreact to a two-game sample, but Jones-Drew is killing fantasy owners who spent such a high pick on him. He totaled just 48 yards in a blowout loss last week and watched from the sidelines as backup Rashad Jennings played better over most of the second half. Jones-Drew lost a fumble and isn’t getting utilized as a receiver like in the past. This is not a good Jaguars team. I’d easily prefer Ray Rice, Frank Gore or Michael Turner over Jones-Drew. Probably even Arian Foster.

C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF – After such an impressive preseason, Spiller has been a fantasy bust over the first two weeks of his NFL career. It’s obviously not all his fault, as Buffalo gave Spiller just one carry last week after using the ninth pick in the draft on him. There’s plenty of talent here, but he’s unusable in fantasy leagues until he starts seeing a big increase in touches. It should come eventually.

Matt Moore, QB, CAR
– He lost his job to rookie Jimmy Clausen after just two games. The same goes for Jason Campbell and Kevin Kolb, who are all obvious downgrades. Carolina’s run blocking has been terrible compared to last season, so Jonathan Stewart needs to be on fantasy benches until further notice.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, KC – Could Bowe be a bust for the second straight season? Again, it’s not time to panic, and Week 1 the Chiefs played in conditions not conducive for passing, but it would be nice if Bowe showed a pulse soon. Four catches for 45 yards against the Browns won’t cut it. The targets haven’t been there.

Brett Favre, QB, MIN – He’s regretting coming back for one more season, that’s for sure. Minnesota looks nothing like the team that nearly went to the Super Bowl last season, with a collapsing offensive line and a WR corps that’s been ruined by injuries. Percy Harvin also deserves a downgrade.

Robert Meachem, WR, NO – Meachem was targeted just one time Monday night and was often on the sidelines. The game plan called for mostly screens and underneath routes to tight ends, so better days will certainly be in store, but it looks like Devery Henderson is clearly New Orleans’ WR2. Who knows how much that toe injury is lingering as well. Meachem can’t be safely used in fantasy lineups right now.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG – After once again looking sluggish, Jacobs flung his helmet into the crowd Sunday night and didn’t see the field thereafter. New York’s backfield is Ahmad Bradshaw’s now, and with a run blocking unit no longer looking elite, Jacobs has little fantasy upside at this point. Maybe a change of scenery will be for the best. Last year’s disappointing season can no longer be blamed on the knee injury he suffered in Week 1, as Jacobs has never looked slower now seemingly fully healthy.

Devin Aromashodu, WR, CHI
– Last week I had Aromashodu as an upgrade. Woops. Where did this come from? He’s apparently in the coaches’ doghouse, for whatever reason (he had three drops in Week 1, but he was also targeted heavily and looked like a big part of Chicago’s offense), and it might not even be a one week deal, as Earl Bennett has apparently passed him on the depth chart. Johnny Knox is the Bears receiver to own.

Bet on It

Friday, September 17th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 9-6-1, winning my best bet by a mere half point. Others seem to disagree, but I always feel Week 1 is easily the best time to bet all season. Put differently, I’m less confident this week. Onto my picks:

Ravens -1.5 at BENGALS

Dolphins +5.5 at VIKINGS

Bears +7.5 at COWBOYS

EAGLES -4.5 at Lions

Cardinals +6.5 at FALCONS

Chiefs +1.5 at BROWNS

Bills +13 at PACKERS

STEELERS +5 at Titans

Buccaneers +3 at PANTHERS (Best Bet)

Rams +3.5 at RAIDERS

Seahawks +3.5 at BRONCOS

Texans -3 at REDSKINS

Jaguars +7.5 at CHARGERS

PATRIOTS -2.5 at Jets

GIANTS +5.5 at Colts

Saints -5.5 at 49ers

Comments: I had a harder time this week compared to last, with the Vikings, Eagles and Packers essentially coin flips. I’m not happy backing so many favorites (11). I liked Carolina more when the line opened at -2, but they’re still my best bet. I also strongly considered the 49ers.

Podcast

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Check it out here. Or through iTunes here.

The Scoop

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

This is not the same Minnesota team as last year’s version. It’s possible with more practice time Brett Favre becomes more comfortable with his receiving corps that now lacks Sidney Rice, but the Vikings basically admitted they were inferior to the Saints with Thursday’s “keep away” game plan. Although after what New Orleans did to Favre during last year’s Championship game, maybe it made some sense to think long-term. Still, that was about as vanilla of an offensive attack as you’ll see…Although owners were probably ready to jump off a cliff after one quarter, Pierre Thomas’ stock ultimately went up. If he’s truly implemented like something of a workhorse, there’s top-five upside…Over his last 12 regular season games, Reggie Bush has averaged 3.5 carries…While discouraging, Percy Harvin owners shouldn’t panic…Jabari Greer is one of the most underrated players in football…I disliked Visanthe Shiancoe entering the year because I hate relying on players so tied to scoring touchdowns (a fluky stat year-to-year, and he was essentially worthless in games he didn’t get a TD last year), but I was wrong. Without Rice, he’s going to be targeted far more this season. Bump him way up.

Chris Johnson has ran for 100 yards in 12 straight games, two shy of the NFL record held by Barry Sanders. He faces a tough task Sunday against the Steelers to make it 13…Jason Campbell sure didn’t look like the big upgrade at QB everyone expected in Week 1, but he received little help from his offensive line and receivers. He’ll start looking better than JaMarcus Russell soon enough…If you’re looking for a deeper stash guy, how about Javon Ringer? All Johnson owners should have him rostered, but with few other options, a terrific situation and ostensibly some decent skills, he could prove quite valuable to any owner should CJ go down with an injury…Darren McFadden played his best football game in the NFL on Sunday. The situation was pretty ideal – Oakland had to throw a ton, resulting in a bunch of check downs – and Michael Bush will take away carries (including at the GL) once he returns, but McFadden finally showed an ability to break tackles. He’s always had the speed. Now he just needs to stay healthy. If Bush is out in Week 2, McFadden is a must-start at home against the Rams.

Carolina’s quarterback position remains a huge question mark (Matt Moore was nothing short of awful Sunday, and Jimmy Clausen obviously isn’t ready), but realize the Panthers entered halftime with the lead while on the road facing a Giants team that could go deep into the playoffs this year. Don’t consider Carolina some doormat…Sure, he threw three picks, but all were off his receivers’ hands, and with three touchdowns, a 66.7 completion percentage and an 8.8 YPA mark against a Panthers secondary that allowed just 6.6 YPA with a 14:22 TD:INT ratio last season, Eli Manning’s ascension to stardom continued. He should be considered a top-10 QB for fantasy purposes…The Giants’ defense didn’t have a single interception in the red zone last season. They had three Sunday…How did New York go from having WR possibly be the team’s biggest weakness to a major strength in a year? What a remarkable turnaround, led by Hakeem Nicks, who should appear in multiple Pro Bowls in his career.

Despite predicting Arian Foster would finish as a top-15 overall player in 2010 (not that one week means he will be anything of the sort), he ended up on only a few of my teams. I’m an idiot. Remember, there was a reason Steve Slaton was drafted so early last year, and Foster has a build to be more durable and dominant at the goal line. Don’t feel the need to sell high…It’s safe to say Pierre Garcon had a hugely disappointing game with all those drops, while Austin Collie (who won’t have to fight off Anthony Gonzalez for targets out of the slot anytime soon) absolutely impressed and is suddenly a viable weekly flex option, but I’d still rather own the former than the latter from here on out…Indy’s offensive line (while dealing with numerous injuries) played terribly Sunday, and Peyton Manning dealt with essentially a jail break on every other drop back, yet he somehow was sacked just two times while attempting 57 passes. He’s good…I’m beginning to think Bob Sanders is injury-prone.

Mike Sims-Walker has now recorded two catches or fewer in five of his past six games, totaling just 129 yards with one touchdown over that span. I’m not writing his obituary, and Champ Bailey played a part in Sunday’s catchless effort, but this is a concern…While the knee injury could crop back up at any moment, Maurice Jones-Drew looked fine physically in Week 1, but that offensive line remains a problem…Again, why was Eddie Royal not used out of the slot last season? Jabar Gaffney remains the Broncos receiver to own in fantasy leagues.

Welcome back, Troy Polamalu. How does Matt Ryan get picked off there?…Curtis Lofton is going to be an absolute IDP monster this season…Is Hines Ward ever going to slow down?…I still say Michael Turner is the favorite to lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns this year.

It was just one game (5.4 YPA) against an underrated Buffalo secondary, but the recent report of Bill Parcells being “very disappointed” in Chad Henne’s development at least needs to be noted. Maybe he’s ultimately wrong, or maybe the addition of Brandon Marshall masks flaws, but we still don’t know what type of QB Henne will develop into, and that quote could be telling. He’s working an uphill battle playing six games in the AFC East (although he was obviously a better pick than Brian Brohm)…A wait-and-see approach is probably best, especially with Green Bay next on the schedule, but C.J. Spiller can absolutely be a difference maker in fantasy leagues this season…So let’s get this straight, the Bills were down 13-10 with 1:39 left in the fourth quarter at their own 1-yard line, and the team decided to purposely take a safety? Huh? A best-case scenario ensued – a three-and-out, with even a five-yard Miami penalty mixed in as well as a touchback on the punt – which left the Bills with first-and-10 at the 20-yard line with 29 seconds left and down FIVE! Again, that was the best possible outcome of this decision (needing to go 80 yards for a TD in 29 seconds as opposed to needing to go 65 yards for a FG with 1:40 left). I guess Chan Gailey was more concerned about losing by five rather than 10 than he was giving his team the best chance of winning.

As someone who chose Tennessee in my survivor pool, I was rooting for the Calvin Johnson catch to be a TD. As someone who ultimately would have otherwise lost a close battle in my home league if it was ruled a score, I’m glad it wasn’t. As a general football fan, I’m embarrassed by the rule. What a travesty. That’s a catch…It’s possible the additions of Julius Peppers, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Ndamukong Suh have improved Chicago’s and Detroit’s defensive fronts that much, but both teams’ offensive lines were dominated Sunday…With seven catches, 201 total yards and two touchdowns, Matt Forte looks like one of the bigger steals of drafts. But just 2.9 YPC at home against the Lions? And after going 0-for-4 at the GL, he’s now converted just seven scores over 37 attempts (18.9%) there during his career. Still, he’s going to be a major impact as a receiver in a Mike Martz offense….Jay Cutler targeted Earl Bennett like crazy Week 1 last season, and he later became an afterthought. Still, if Sunday was any indication, Devin Aromashodu looks like the superior fantasy option to Johnny Knox…With 4:24 left in the fourth quarter down one point on Detroit’s 38-yard line, how does Chicago punt? They truly deserved to lose Sunday.

I predicted the Patriots to win the Super Bowl (although against the Cowboys, which looks more stupid with every Wade Phillips decision. Ugh. I should have went with Green Bay) and made my biggest bet before the season on New England over 9.5 wins, so Week 1 made me feel good. But it remains to be seen whether that demolition had more to do with the Bengals declining or the Patriots ascending (or things will change so much over the rest of the year, none of the above will prove true). Again, maybe New England fails, and I look like an idiot, but I just don’t see why so many people wrote off the defense – based off a down year last season? No household names? They sucked in the preseason? This is Bill Belichick! With a ton of talented young players. And that offense is ridiculous. It’s not like the Colts had some dominant D last year…Didn’t Belichick just give Laurence Maroney a big vote of confidence recently? I’m starting to suspect he’s not always totally truthful with the media.

I love Carnell Williams’ tenacity to come back from injuries, but even with Tampa Bay’s backfield all to himself, Sunday was a good example why he’s not much of a fantasy asset. At home against the Browns, he ran for just 75 yards on 22 carries (3.4 YPC). His activity in the passing game was nice (23 yards receiving), and he’ll score some touchdowns, but there’s little upside here…Mike Williams is going to be a star and should already be considered a borderline top-20 fantasy WR in dynasty formats…How dare coach Raheem Morris pass on a field goal from the Cleveland 5-yard line with 44 seconds left. Forget strategically, that FG would have moved a push to a win ATS for me…I get the frustration by Jerome Harrison’s fantasy owners, but realize Pro Football Focus (who grade all NFL players and do so well) rated Harrison as the second worst running back in the league last year (62 out of 63), and that was with him being a positive in penalties – he was that bad at running, receiving and blocking. And also, after blowing up in one game against a Kansas City run defense that was awful, Harrison only got 3.8 YPC in Weeks 16 and 17 (again in two terrific matchups), so a lot of his late production was the result of sheer volume (he set an NFL record with the most carries over that three-game span). I’m far from an Eric Mangini fan, but maybe he’s onto to something here. If Peyton Hillis can control the fumbling, he should remain a big part of Cleveland’s backfield.

On one hand, the final score of the 49ers/Seahawks game was hugely misleading. Over the first 25 minutes Sunday, San Francisco gained 139 yards compared to Seattle’s 11, and dominated time of possession (19:58 vs. 3:23, which reveals what a meaningless stat that is), but failure inside the 10-yard line and later a truly atrocious pass interference call changed momentum. Things could have gone much differently. But on the other hand, it was truly pathetic how the 49ers responded, unable to produce any offense in the second half, even down big facing a conservative defense. Few players in the NFL played worse in Week 1 than Michael Crabtree…I’m all for enthusiasm and emotion, but Pete Carroll took it to a new level. We’ll see how long that act lasts…Justin Forsett: seven carries, 43 yards. Julius Jones: eight carries, 18 yards. Something isn’t right with this picture…Everyone keeps calling for the 49ers to go back to the spread offense out of the shotgun for Alex Smith, but he actually got a higher YPA when lined up under center last season. That’s not the answer.  OC Jimmy Raye is a bigger problem than Smith right now in San Francisco.

As someone who had never missed an NFL game due to injury and in such an explosive offense as the clear workhorse, Ryan Grant was considered one of the safest picks this year, even if he wasn’t a special running back. Naturally, he destroys his ankle in the first half of Week 1. Without question, I’d spend 100% of my FAAB on Brandon Jackson. Who knows if he’ll hold up or get goal-line carries, but he’s now the lead back in possibly the league’s best offense. The former second round pick probably has more raw talent than Grant, and he also can catch the ball, so in a way, he has even more upside…I admit, I was high on Kevin Kolb, and what a brutal start. In my defense, I trusted Andy Reid’s ability to assess his own talent and the terrific offensive system and receivers around him more than any conviction of knowing Kolb’s ability. But no excuses, this could be a disaster, as he looked to be in a semi-platoon even before the injury. Let’s not overreact, but if his concussion lingers, in that offense and with his speed apparently back, Michael Vick could be an absolute fantasy monster. Sure, defenses will be able to game plan against him more than Green Bay did, but it’s not like Vick was getting many first team reps in practice either. He was highly impressive Sunday (although accuracy will always remain an issue). As long as he’s the clear-cut starter, with that rushing ability, he’s a QB1 for fantasy purposes…Andy Reid decided to use his three timeouts when Green Bay had the ball with five minutes left (the specifics here are up for debate, and you’ll rarely find me arguing on Reid’s behalf when it comes to in-game management, but it’s always beneficial to use timeouts when on defense as opposed to offense, when you can control the action), and whether that decision was right or wrong, Joe Buck’s commentary was embarrassing – when Green Bay later got the ball back inside two minutes, he chastised Philly, saying they should have used those three timeouts they previously wasted now. Umm, didn’t those three timeouts save two minutes? The lack of simple logic and common sense was mind-boggling.

Larry Fitzgerald hauled in just three of 15 targets Sunday, and apparently his knee injury still lingers. With Derek Anderson being so inaccurate, there’s cause for concern. Still, with such an easy schedule and Anderson’s willingness to sling it downfield, Fitzgerald owners shouldn’t sell low…Tim Hightower fumbling is hardly a new issue – he lost four last season. Chris Wells can’t get healthy fast enough…I’m guessing the Rams didn’t expect to ask Sam Bradford to throw 55 times during his first NFL start, but despite a 53.1 QB rating and three picks, he really shows promise…After Brandon Jackson and Mike Vick, Mark Clayton is my next top waiver wire target. There’s more where that came from. He’s got potential…With nine seconds left in the fourth quarter down four points on Arizona’s 39-yard line, St. Louis called a run play! You can’t make this stuff up.

The Cowboys play to end the first half Sunday night had to be the single worst of Week 1, hands down. This team has the talent to reach the Super Bowl, but coaching matters far more in football than any other sport. It’s a big problem in Dallas…Let’s not write them off though. The offensive line will get healthier in Week 2, and this is a defense that essentially just allowed six points on the road…Chris Cooley is likely to go down as the biggest TE bargain by the end of the year…Only health (a big concern) will prevent Santana Moss from having his best season since 2005…While Dez Bryant was used primarily underneath, it looks like he’s going to be a huge part of Dallas’ offense this year. He was targeted 12 times after missing the preseason while transitioning into one of the most difficult positions to learn as a rookie. Roy Williams shouldn’t be owned even in deep leagues…Having Tony Romo certainly helps, but make no mistake, Miles Austin is easily one of the five best wide receivers in the NFL…I hate the cliché  “downhill” runner, but I must say, Clinton Portis really strikes me as an uphill runner these days. You’re more likely to see Joey Votto hit a popup (he’s hit zero this season!) than Portis break a long run.

What an ugly game Monday night. Kyle Wilson didn’t have a very good NFL debut. The Jets’ secondary is going to post a strong YPA against if they decide to commit PI on half the attempts. And why didn’t New York have Darrelle Revis just shadow Anquan Boldin?…Shonn Greene’s fumbling is a real problem, but I’m buying low in fantasy leagues. After all, he already has more catches than he did all of last season! LaDainian Tomlinson looked good Monday, but the concern with him wasn’t can he impress in Week 1. It’s the unlikelihood of someone approaching 3,000 career carries lasting a full season…Seriously, what was Tom Zbikowski thinking?

Give the crowd at Arrowhead some credit, as they brought it Monday night. San Diego’s special teams deserves some blame, but Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster are for real. Kansas City’s return game is already among the best in football…As quite possibly Jamaal Charles’ biggest fan, Week 1 was actually quite discouraging. You simply can’t count on 56-yard TD runs every week (with him, it’s more like every other), and the lack of carries (he had 11, the same as Thomas Jones) was a joke. Maybe he’ll be more involved when the team is behind, as he should see the field over Jones in passing situations, but come on Todd Haley, give me a break. Use your best players!…It was a little unclear, does Trent Dilfer like or dislike Philip Rivers? I hope next time he’s not so vague with his opinion.

You need Google Chrome (which you should be using anyway), but seriously, this is amazing.

Podcast

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Check it out here. Or download through iTunes here.

Season Predictions

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

NFC West

1. San Francisco 49ers
2. Seattle Seahawks
3. Arizona Cardinals
4. St. Louis Rams

NFC East

1. Dallas Cowboys
2. New York Giants (Wild Card)
3. Philadelphia Eagles
4. Washington Redskins

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers
2. Minnesota Vikings
3. Chicago Bears
4. Detroit Lions

NFC South

1. Atlanta Falcons
2. Carolina Panthers (Wild Card)
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Oakland Raiders
4. Denver Broncos

AFC East

1. New England Patriots
2. New York Jets (Wild Card)
3. Miami Dolphins
4. Buffalo Bills

AFC North

1. Baltimore Ravens
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (Wild Card)
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Cleveland Browns

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts
2. Houston Texans
3. Tennessee Titans
4. Jacksonville Jaguars

NFC Championship: Cowboys over Packers
AFC Championship: Patriots over Colts

Super Bowl: Patriots over Cowboys

Bet on It

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last year I went 126-125-5 ATS. Over the last three seasons since I started doing this, I’m 386-358. Onto Week 1 action:

VIKINGS +5.5 at Saints

Broncos +2.5 at JAGUARS

Raiders +6 at TITANS

BENGALS +4.5 at Patriots

Browns +3 at BUCCANEERS

Colts -2 at TEXANS

LIONS +6.5 at Bears

Falcons -2 at STEELERS

Dolphins -3 at BILLS

PANTHERS +6.5 at Giants

Packers -3 at EAGLES

Cardinals -4.5 at RAMS (Best Bet)

49ers -2.5 at Seahawks

Cowboys -3.5 at REDSKINS

Ravens +2.5 at JETS

Chargers -4.5 at CHIEFS

Comments: After the Vikings clearly outplayed them in the NFC Championship game, I’m surprised so much money is going on the Saints…The Falcons being favored by two points in Pittsburgh essentially says Vegas views Ben Roethlisberger as a 5-7 point player, which is massive…The Packers could easily win the Super Bowl this season, but giving three points in Philadelphia is a lot to ask. The line opened at Eagles -1…Seems like a lot of good value with home dogs in Week 1, including the Rams. Still, I don’t feel great making a bad team with a QB making his first ever start as a “best bet.”

Thursday Night Preview

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Minnesota (+5.5) at New Orleans, Thursday 8:30 p.m.

Comments: The 2010 season opens with a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game, which ended in a thrilling 31-28 overtime win by the Saints. In reality, New Orleans got lucky – not only winning the OT coin toss and getting the benefit of a subsequent questionable pass interference call, but Minnesota fumbled a whopping six times (losing three) and outgained New Orleans 475 yards to 257, so the Vikings pretty clearly outplayed them. With this in mind, you’d expect most to back Minnesota as nearly touchdown dogs, but instead a whopping 80 percent of the public has sided with the Saints, so apparently the Super Bowl produced an even greater recency effect. It’s not totally crazy – New Orleans will be fired up in primetime as defending champs, and it’s never easy for the road team during a short week. Moreover, the loss of Sidney Rice (hip) will hurt a passing attack that has pretty much nowhere to go but down after Brett Favre had the best season of his career at age 40. His ankle injury is a real concern this year as well. So is Percy Harvin’s migraine headaches. And the Vikings graded out as the worst run blocking unit in the NFL last season. Still, this is a team that could easily be considered the best from 2009 and is comfortable playing in a dome environment. Seems like the spread should be a field goal at most…The Saints remain a very good football team, but turnovers are fluky (especially interceptions, although in New Orleans’ case they do present more opportunities by scoring so many points offensively, and therefore forcing more pass attempts from opponents), so some regression there should be expected. Moreover, Darren Sharper, who tied for the NFL lead with nine picks last season, begins the year on the PUP list with a knee injury. Remember, New Orleans hadn’t made the playoffs since 2006 before last year, so it’s not like they are some perennial powerhouse. But having one of the league’s best players in Drew Brees is a great place to start, and the city of New Orleans should provide quite the boost Thursday night for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Predictions: Brett Favre throws for 240 yards with scoring strikes to Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe, while Adrian Peterson adds 100 rushing yards and a TD run. Pierre Thomas answers with 80 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, while Drew Brees adds 270 passing yards and two TDs, with Marques Colston and Devery Henderson the recipients, as New Orleans comes out on top. Saints 24-21.

The Scoop

Monday, September 6th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Getting one of the first two picks in a draft is simply unfair. Another reason why auctions are superior – not only does everyone have the opportunity of getting Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson, but the penalty (spending around 35% of your budget) of buying one is far greater than having a late second round pick (followed by an early third rounder). The drop off from one of the big two to say pick No. 8 is just ridiculous. Who are you going to take there? I like Ryan Mathews and Shonn Greene, but that’s quite a bit of uncertainty for a first round pick (and the other options are even less enticing). Sure, there’s no guarantee AP and CJ finish as the two best fantasy players, but they are special talents that only injuries could prevent Hall of Fame type careers. Peterson is coming off a season in which he totaled 1,819 yards with 18 touchdowns in what was considered something of a mild disappointment. He’s in line to get far more third down work in 2010 and should also see an increase in carries with Sidney Rice out and Brett Favre dealing with an ankle injury, and Minnesota’s offensive line can’t possibly be worse at run blocking compared to last year. Admittedly, Johnson has nowhere to go but down coming off a historical season that had everything go his way, but if his production declined a whopping 25%, he’d still total 1,882 yards. Please think about that. Getting one of these two is already an unfair advantage, and at the wheel coming back, guys like Miles Austin, Jamaal Charles, Pierre Thomas, Jahvid Best and Brandon Marshall are typically available. It’s not right.

This guy is absolutely hilarious. Here are my three favorite email exchanges: Missing Missy, Party in Apartment 3 and Simon’s Pie Charts. His most famous one is probably Blockbuster Late Fees. Honestly, this guy is pure genius.

I really don’t know what to make of Ronnie Brown. He’s played a full schedule just once during his five-year career, and he’s missed a total of 16 games over the past three years. Despite being built like a true workhorse, he’s never reached 250 carries in a season, so the injury-prone label is well deserved. Still, those injuries have masked one of the most productive backs in all of football when on the field. In 2007, he was on pace to finish with 2,439 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. In 2008, locked in an almost even timeshare, he totaled 1,170 yards with 10 touchdowns while returning from knee surgery. Last year, he was on pace to end the year with 1,326 combined yards and 14 touchdowns despite once again being in a committee. There’s no doubt Brown is an injury risk, but those are pretty impressive numbers, especially when you consider the last two came while sharing so many touches with Ricky Williams. Brown should enter this season close to full strength, as he’s described the rehab from his recent foot injury as easier than the previous knee surgery, and while I understand Williams’ mid-career hiatus makes him a rare case, he enters this season 33 years old (beyond ancient in RB terms) and with 2,164 career carries. He was worked hard over the final half of last season after Brown went down, so few backs in the NFL are bigger candidates to fall off a cliff in 2010. Brown has proven he can be plenty productive in a timeshare, and if Williams were to suffer a major injury, he has top-five upside. That is, if Brown can somehow stay healthy himself.

The reaction by this guy’s “friends” is ruthless.

CJ Spiller sure does pass the eye test. There’s a lot working against him on paper – bad offensive line, shaky QB, two other competent backs competing for touches, but Spiller looks like he could be something special. He won’t need 20-plus carries each game to be highly productive. We’ve seen coaches stick with veterans over younger, more exciting options plenty of times, but come on, Fred Jackson? The latter graded out as the worst blocking RB in football last season, so Spiller should dominate third down work. And he already looks like Buffalo’s best offensive player, so if the Bills’ coaching staff want to keep their jobs, they’ll get him on the field as much as possible. Spiller might get caught for losses instead of taking what’s there too often, but he’s a big play waiting to happen.

Thatta boy Jay Cutler.

No one should be taking Brandon Jacobs ahead of Ahmad Bradshaw at this point, and it’s not particularly close. The former may still be the favorite for short-yardage work, but if the latter can get 4.8 YPC (and 13.8 yards-per-catch) on two bum wheels last year, imagine what he can do now healthy. Speaking of health, Jacobs’ linebacker frame is a leg injury waiting to happen, and while admittedly I can’t guarantee New York’s staff agrees, I see no reason why Bradshaw (5-9, 200) can’t withstand 20 carries a game. The NFC East projects to be extremely tough defensively, but with emerging wideouts and Eli Manning playing like a true star last season, the Giants’ offense has upside. Bradshaw won’t cost you an early pick, but he might just win your league for you.

Random prediction No. 1: The Panthers will make the playoffs and the Saints won’t.

Random prediction No. 2: Week 1 is going to bring carnage in Survivor pools.

In hindsight, I wish I had been more aggressive drafting Malcom Floyd, who’s now locked in as San Diego’s No. 1 receiver with Vincent Jackson unlikely to ever suit up for the club again. Floyd got a ridiculous 10.5 YPA last year and could see last season’s 74 targets increase by 50%. He has one of the five best quarterbacks in the league throwing to him, and San Diego plays both the AFC West and NFC West this season. Floyd should be treated as a top-20 fantasy wide receiver, if not top-15.

This kid had a lot of money riding on the game (not the match or set, but apparently the upcoming “game!”), when he’s first accosted by a female and then later by an older gentlemen. I remember the days when you used to be able to get belligerent and gamble at the US Open in peace, but alas, they seem to be long gone.

Two of my favorite late round WR targets are Mohamed Massaquoi and Jabar Gaffney. Massaquoi showed flashes as a rookie last year and should improve during his second year in the league. Moreover, while Jake Delhomme should rack up turnovers, he can’t help but be more accurate than last season’s group of Browns’ QBs, and Cleveland should be throwing a lot while playing catch up. Although admittedly, facing the Steelers, Bengals and Ravens six times is far from ideal. As for Gaffney, someone has to replace Brandon Marshall’s 154 targets. Demaryius Thomas has a ton of upside long-term, but he’s a rookie still dealing with a serious foot injury coming from a gimmicky college system. Eddie Royal may be more productive out of the slot (actually, it would be hard for him not to be more productive than last year’s disaster), but Gaffney, who is familiar with Josh McDaniels’ offense dating back to when they were both in New England, looks locked in as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver. He’s not a special talent, but playing in the AFC West and facing the NFC West sure doesn’t hurt matters. Besides, if you prorate Gaffney’s performance during the one game (in Week 17) he started over Marshall last year over a full season, he’d produce 224 catches and 3,408 receiving yards!!

This was a fascinating firsthand account of prison life. If you want to delve further and have an hour or two to burn, check out more here. Really, really eye opening.

Love Carnell Williams’ comeback, but last season was the first time he’s ever played in 16 games over his five-year career, and he missed a total of 22 games over the previous two years, so don’t forget just how hard it’s been for him to stay on the field. With Derrick Ward released, Kareem Huggins is an intriguing flier. Moreover, I’m buying all the Mike Williams hype. Kid looks like the real deal. It’s always tough for a rookie WR to be fantasy relevant, but he should immediately be Tampa Bay’s No. 1 wide receiver, and the team theoretically should have to throw quite a bit playing mostly from behind. Josh Freeman might not be that bad. Williams looks like a future Pro Bowler.

I would honestly give up watching one Super Bowl if it meant I could see Mayweather fight Pacquiao.

Best interview ever? Best interview ever.

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Podcast

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

If you’re interested in NFL over/unders, then this podcast is for you.

Training Camp Notes

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Montario Hardesty left Thursday’s game with a knee injury – He was later spotted with a left knee brace and on crutches. While I guess it’s good news the latest injury is not to the same knee that’s been bothering him this preseason, in reality, it just proves how injury-prone the rookie seems to be. I got this one wrong, bump Jerome Harrison up your cheat sheets.

Beanie Wells left Thursday’s game with an apparent knee injury – He’s later claimed to be “fine.” Assuming he’s telling the truth, it’s no big deal, but this further highlights the talented back’s durability concerns. Still, what is coach Ken Whisenhunt thinking? While most teams hold out their best players during the fourth week of the preseason, Whisenhunt apparently needed to see what he had in Wells. Huh? He’s Arizona’s second best offensive player! I’m beginning to think Whisenhunt is an idiot. Have fun with Derek Anderson and Tim Hightower and finishing in third place in football’s easiest division this year.

The Oakland Tribune’s Jerry McDonald speculates Michael Bush could miss up to 4-to-6 weeks with his thumb injury – I actually don’t understand this. Sure, Bush is a southpaw and injured his left thumb, but he’d hardly be the first running back who carried the football with just one hand. Either way, bump Darren McFadden up your cheat sheet a decent amount. You know, until he inevitably suffers a hangnail in Week 1. Then Michael Bennett becomes fantasy relevant.

There are unconfirmed reports Byron Leftwich tore his MCL on Thursday – It’s unfortunate for Leftwich, but Dennis Dixon should be starting for the Steelers early this season anyway. However, the team’s QB situation is awfully thin (and vulnerable) until Big Ben returns.