Archive for October, 2010

Bet on It

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 6-8, bringing my season record to 53-48-3. I lost my best bet, so I’m 4-3 there. Onto the Week 8 picks:

BILLS +7.5 at Chiefs

JAGUARS +6.5 at Cowboys

PANTHERS +3 at Rams

Dolphins +2 at BENGALS

Redskins +2 at LIONS (Best Bet)

BRONCOS +1 at 49ers

PACKERS +5.5 at Jets

Titans +3.5 at CHARGERS

Buccaneers +3 at CARDINALS

VIKINGS +5 at Patriots

Seahawks +2.5 at RAIDERS

STEELERS +1 at Saints

TEXANS +5.5 at Colts

Comments: I struggled coming up with a best bet this week and ultimately went with Detroit, who seems like an odd favorite at 1-5 and playing a 4-3 Redskins team. I actually worry about the return of Matthew Stafford, but the Lions are coming off a bye, and Washington has plenty of fleas – its defense is on pace to allow the second most yards in NFL history, and Donovan McNabb has finished with a QB rating under 80.0 in six of seven games this season.

Podcast

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Check it out.

The Scoop

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Roddy White is on pace to finish the season with 123 catches, 1,707 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s clearly established himself as the No. 1 fantasy receiver right now…Carson Palmer hasn’t played well this season, getting just 7.0 YPA, but thanks to a ton of attempts, he’s on pace to surpass 4,500 passing yards…Tony Gonzalez has topped 41 yards receiving just once over seven games this season, and his current 10.1 yards-per-catch mark is a career low. It’s not time to give up on him, but on a run first team and with White getting most of Matt Ryan’s attention, it’s pretty clear his owners are going to be left disappointed. The 34-year-old is starting to show his age…With two minutes left in the third quarter, Marvin Lewis should not have gone for two down 24-19…Matt Ryan is now 16-1 at home during his career.

As a Californian, I’m a fan of In-N-Out Burger (I go with “animal style” and “extra toast”). I know there’s been some backlash (which happens to all things that become too popular), and it’s pretty common to hear it called “overrated,” and while I understand that sentiment, the truth is, there’s a bigger discrepancy between In-N-Out and any other fast food chain than any two restaurants. I bring this up because “Five Guys,” which I’ve heard is a pretty close rival, recently opened about 30 minutes from me. So, is “Five Guys” worth the trip? Which one is better? Speaking of fast food, here’s a pretty interesting read.

With an extremely shaky performance (4.8 YPA, 1:2 TD:INT ratio), Kevin Kolb made Andy Reid’s decision easy. Michael Vick owners rejoice…According to Pro Football Focus, the Titans have had by far the worst run blocking in the NFL this season, so don’t blame Chris Johnson for his 4.1 YPC mark…Kenny Britt should get into bar fights more often. Seriously, what a performance. Britt has now scored in five straight games and is clearly the team’s best offensive weapon after Chris Johnson…Tennessee has won 12 straight games versus NFC opponents.

Just an FYI, I’m writing this article while sitting on the Hawaii Chair.

Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 67.4 percent of his passes, got 8.7 YPA and threw four touchdowns Sunday against a Ravens defense that entered having allowed just four TD passes over six games. Fitzpatrick has thrown a whopping 14 touchdowns over his past five games. While that is obviously unsustainable, his 7.6 YPA mark suggests it’s also not a fluke. These are eye-opening numbers that need to be taken seriously, and he’d hardly be the first quarterback to come out of nowhere with great success, especially at this stage of his career. Playing in Buffalo, late season weather is a concern, and defenses will start taking the Bills’ passing attack more seriously, but it’s also worth noting Fitzpatrick has averaged 29.0 rushing yards per game, which is second in the league only to Michael Vick. With Buffalo’s defense allowing an NFL-high 33.0 points per game, the Bills are going to remain pass heavy. I currently have Fitzpatrick ranked around 10th among fantasy QBs – ahead of Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco…Fitzpatrick became the first Bills passer to throw for 300 yards in 60 games…After two more touchdowns by Todd Heap on Sunday, Buffalo has now allowed seven scores to tight ends this season. No other team has allowed more than four…For those of you who backed Baltimore in your survivor pool, consider yourself blessed. What breaks! Forward progress was clearly stopped on that overtime “fumble.” And how is that play not even reviewed?

Watched “Catfish” this week, which I thought was brilliant. Who would have thought the two best movies of 2010 would be about Facebook. Run, don’t walk to see “Catfish.”

Thankfully, I switched away from New Orleans to Kansas City in my survival pool (although that now leaves me with an incredibly tough choice in Week 8), as this Browns team scared me for some reason. Also, it’s awfully tough trusting this Saints squad…With 11:49 left in the fourth quarter Sunday, Sean Payton challenged a 12-yard catch by Chansi Stuckey after Cleveland declined an illegal hands to the face penalty on the same play, and while the Saints won the challenge, it’s hard to see what Payton was thinking there since the penalty was an automatic first down anyway. Was it really worth the seven yard difference? Payton has made some head scratching decisions this year, to say the least.

Your move, Old Spice.

Jay Cutler got off to a nice start this season, but things have turned quite ugly since. Over the last three games, he’s produced one touchdown while committing seven turnovers. The 8.2 YPA mark is nice and continued high yardage totals can be expected, but the TD production has been unacceptable, and with the NFL’s worst pass blocking unit (he’s been sacked 27 times over 5.5 games), Cutler is a long shot to stay healthy over the rest of the year…The Bears have scored zero points in the third quarter this season…Washington’s defense is on pace to allow the second most yards in NFL history this season (Houston has actually been even worse), yet they are somehow 4-3. The team that allowed the most finished 2-14, and the team that allowed the second most finished 0-16…How does Lovie Smith not challenge that Cutler TD run? Talk about being asleep at the wheel. And it only added salt to the wound when a subsequent pick six by Chicago was taken away thanks to a delay of game by the Redskins.

Right now, Vegas currently has the AFC favored by just 2.5 points over the NFC in the Super Bowl, which seems mighty low to me. There’s a profit to be made here.

Jamaal Charles’ career 5.8 YPC mark is the highest in NFL history among running backs. Of course, we are talking about an awfully small sample, but the next best mark is Bo Jackson with 5.4 YPC…Sunday marked the second straight week the Chiefs were screwed by a horrible pass interference call. Mike Thomas played the role of Andre Johnson this time around…Nice to see Maurice Jones-Drew be so involved as a receiver. His owners might not be so happy to see David Garrard retake the job this week.

Ronnie Brown hasn’t had the easiest schedule, but unless Ricky Williams gets hurt, he’s essentially unusable in fantasy leagues…More touchdowns are coming Brandon Marshall owners, I promise…Mike Wallace may be a one trick pony, but he sure is good at that trick (going deep).

Jonathan Stewart has been a huge disappointment so far this season, getting just 3.0 YPC while being totally useless for fantasy owners. However, DeAngelo Williams left last week’s game with a painful foot injury, and he sat out Wednesday’s practice while still dealing with the sprain. He’s questionable to play in Week 8, and if he’s forced to sit, then Stewart immediately becomes a viable RB2 option, especially against a Rams defense that has yielded 4.6 YPC this year. With Matt Moore back at QB and Steve Smith back from injury, Carolina’s offense is fast improving as well…With news of Alex Smith (shoulder) being out 2-to-3 weeks, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis (and also Frank Gore, to a lesser extent) have to be downgraded. Smith is hardly any good, but the alternative is worse, and in this case, coach Mike Singletary has elected to go with Troy Smith instead of David Carr. While Smith is a long shot to have much success, at least he’s an unknown, while we already are well aware of how bad Carr is. Either way, Crabtree is probably not worth using in fantasy leagues, and Davis’ production could take a hit as well (although raw QBs often target their tight ends heavily, so Davis is still worth using, of course).

This story is nuts.

LeGarrette Blount is back on the scene after rushing for 72 yards on 11 carries Sunday and should be among the top waiver wire adds this week. Blount still has plenty of work to do with his pass protection, so at a minimum, he’ll cede work to Carnell Williams on all third downs and obvious passing situations. However, Williams has gotten just 2.5 YPC this season, and Blount looked highly impressive when given the opportunity last week, showing good speed and burst for someone who is listed at 247 pounds, so he could start dominating early down work as soon as this week. He’s a massive upgrade as a ballcarrier…Unfortunately, it appears there may not be a true No. 1 receiver who emerges for St. Louis over the rest of the year.

Tim Hightower’s fumble was a welcome sight for Beanie Wells owners. Let’s see if the sophomore back can take advantage of it moving forward…Especially in PPR formats, Mike Williams sure looks like he can be a difference maker from here on out…What a drop off from Kurt Warner to the current pu pu platter Arizona is running out each week at quarterback. Max Hall may have a future in this league, but right now, this position is a glaring weakness for the Cardinals. It’s unclear if Hall or Derek Anderson currently gives the team its best chance to win.

Just when I thought this Chargers team couldn’t get any worse or more undisciplined, they literally give away two fumbles Sunday (someone please tell Richard Goodman that in the NFL, there needs to be contact to be considered down)…Nice to see Darren Sproles utilized more in the passing game recently, as he was really underused earlier this season…If he’s healthy enough to start, Legedu Naanee isn’t the worst WR option for desperate owners this week…Wes Welker is averaging a paltry 8.0 yards per catch and hasn’t scored since Week 2…No one should give up on Ryan Mathews, and there’s little reason trying to trade him now with his value so low, but fantasy owners who have kept starting him over the past four games are surely tired of hearing about his potential or his upside. Mathews has topped 65 yards rushing just once this season and has averaged 8.6 carries over five games since Week 1. He practiced fully Wednesday, which is a good sign he’s finally getting close to 100 percent healthy, but San Diego’s offensive line has performed terribly this season, and Mike Tolbert remains the team’s goal-line back. The perceived upside is real while playing for the league’s No. 1 offense, but until Mathews actually gets 20 touches in a game, the safe play is to keep him benched…San Diego has somehow lost 12 of its 15 fumbles this season, which is crazy bad luck (normal rate is about 50%).

Well, at least she could drive in the carpool lane.

I have to say Oakland dropping 59 points in Denver through three quarters has to be one of the most shocking things of the 2010 season so far. Since starting last year 6-0, the Broncos are 4-13…Playing his second game back from a hamstring injury that sidelined him Weeks 3-5, Moreno totaled 90 yards with two scores on 17 touches Sunday. Further removed from the injury, he looked back to full strength, and while his YPC (3.3) remains pathetic this season, it’s important to note he was the only running back on Denver’s roster to receive a carry in Week 7. He’s clearly the team’s workhorse, and since that means he’ll also get goal-line carries as well as be active as a receiver, Moreno can be plenty valuable in fantasy leagues even if he’s just an average back in real life…What a game by Darren McFadden, who is clearly Oakland’s feature back when healthy. No other RB has averaged as many total yards per game as McFadden this season (150.0 ypg), and his 5.5 YPC mark is tied for third best in the NFL. Finally the track star speed has translated onto the football field, and his newfound ability to break tackles has been a welcome sight. Put simply, he looks like an entirely different running back than in years past and more like the runner that made him worth being selected fourth overall in the 2008 draft. His balky hamstrings will seemingly always be a worry, but while healthy, calling McFadden a top-10 fantasy player seems conservative…In the Yahoo Friends & Family league, I had McFadden on my bench. My opponent benched Kenny Britt.

Aaron Rodgers entered Sunday just 1-11 in games decided by four points or fewer during his career, so it was nice to see him pull out a close one (although Percy Harvin was awfully close to making him 1-12)…Anyone can tell Brett Favre hasn’t been very good this year, but this illustrates just how truly bad he has been so far in 2010.

Tony Romo will miss the next 6-to-8 weeks after suffering a broken collarbone Monday night, and with the 1-5 Cowboys now turning to Jon Kitna at quarterback, there’s a decent chance Romo is held out the rest of the year. Romo was in the midst of another nice season, although his 7.5 YPA mark was actually a career low. It’s a crushing blow to a Dallas team that has been the most disappointing in football. Fantasy owners who lost Romo should be all over Ryan Fitzpatrick this week….Dez Bryant reached paydirt three times Monday, twice as a receiver and another on an impressive 93-yard punt return. The entire Dallas offense needs to be downgraded a significant amount with Romo out, but Bryant may finally be close to 100 percent healthy, and it’s clear he’s highly talented. He should have little trouble pushing Roy Williams aside from here on out, and it sure seemed like Kitna had a good rapport with the rookie wideout. At a minimum, Bryant should be a force inside the red zone…Playing on the road against a stingy Dallas defense that was desperate for a win to save its season, Eli Manning completed 71.4 percent of his passes, got 8.7 YPA and tossed four touchdowns Monday night. He needs to protect the football better, having already thrown an NFL-high 11 interceptions, but his 14 TD passes also lead the league. Manning has taken just three sacks over the past three games, and he’s thrown nine touchdowns over that span. With Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham emerging as one of the best wide receiver groups in football, Manning has become an elite fantasy QB.

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Bet on It

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 6-7-1, bringing my season record to 47-40-3. I won my best bet, so I’m 4-2 there. Onto the Week 7 picks:

BROWNS +13 at Saints

Jaguars +7 at CHIEFS

EAGLES +3 at Titans

Bengals +3.5 at FALCONS

Redskins +3 at BEARS

STEELERS -3 at Dolphins

Rams +2.5 at BUCCANEERS (Best Bet)

BILLS +13.5 at Ravens

49ers -3 at PANTHERS

CARDINALS +5.5 at Seahawks

Raiders +8.5 at BRONCOS

Patriots +3 at CHARGERS

Vikings +3 at PACKERS

Giants +3 at COWBOYS

Comments: I usually struggle with games that are three point spreads, so it’s safe to say I’m not all that confident with this week’s slate. I’m not happy backing nine favorites either.

Podcast

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

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

The Scoop

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

The Falcons are a good football team, but with a quarterback who has gotten 6.5 YPA, a rushing attack that has gained just 4.1 YPC and a secondary that has yielded 7.7 YPA, they aren’t among the elite. They can’t keep relying on interceptions, which are largely a product of luck…Kevin Kolb has completed a remarkable 73.3 percent of his passes while getting 9.7 YPA with a 4:1 TD:INT ratio over his past two starts while subbing for an injured Michael Vick. It’s clear now why Andy Reid was willing to trade Donovan McNabb within his division – Kolb can flat out play. The loss of DeSean Jackson hurts, but Kolb has shown terrific chemistry with both Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, and he’s an obvious QB1 with top-five upside as long as he’s starting. It will be interesting to see what Reid does when Vick is back to full strength…What a vicious hit Jackson took. You’ve got to think that concussion will cost him multiple weeks. Maclin is a WR1 as long as Jackson is out.

I must admit, I didn’t see that type of performance coming from Colt McCoy. Looking shaky throughout most of the preseason (although he did go 13-for-13 for 131 yards during the finale), McCoy somehow managed a 69.7 completion percentage while getting 8.5 YPA on the road against the best defense in football while also losing his No. 1 WR and Josh Cribbs to injuries. Should be interesting to see if he can remain successful with more game tape for opposing defenses to prepare for…Ben Roethlisberger wasted little time putting up impressive numbers while coming back from his suspension, getting 9.5 YPA with three touchdowns while taking zero sacks Sunday. He gave his performance a “B-/C+” and it did come against a weak Cleveland secondary, but it was impressive nevertheless. He should only get better with more reps, and while the stout Pitt D won’t lead to many shootouts and should limit Roethlisberger’s pass attempts, he’s an elite quarterback who immediately becomes a viable QB1 in fantasy leagues. The loss of Santonio Holmes is offset by the emergence of Mike Wallace. Over his last four games dating back to last year, Roethlisberger has gotten 9.3 YPA with a 10:2 TD:INT ratio…Somewhat quietly, Ben Watson has racked up 22 catches for 240 yards with two touchdowns over the past four games. For the season, he’s averaged 53.0 yards per game. To put that in perspective, Vernon Davis, who has the third most receiving yards among tight ends this season, has averaged 58.0 yards per game. Like most young starters, McCoy looked to his tight end frequently during his first ever start last week, which should be a theme moving forward. Watson has quickly become a viable TE1 option.

I haven’t talked much about hoops yet this year, but here are the draft results and a subsequent Q&A over at RotoArcade from the Yahoo Friends & Family league I’m in.

Jay Cutler has now been sacked 15 times over the past six quarters…Matt Forte has gotten fewer than 3.0 YPC in five of six games this season. He does have an excuse for Week 6, however, as Seattle’s front seven has been surprisingly stout against the run, allowing just 2.9 YPC this year (second lowest in the NFL)…Ten of Marshawn Lynch’s 17 carries Sunday went for one yard or fewer, but that came against a Bears defense that has played the run well this season, and the more important news was that he got 20 touches during his Seattle debut. Justin Forsett was effective, but it’s clear he works best in a “change-of-pace” type role (or at least the coaches are convinced so), and Lynch should get the majority of carries moving forward, including at the goal line. Lynch is suddenly a weekly option in fantasy leagues, and he might be worth trying to trade for before his value increases even further…Nice to see Johnny Knox finally break out, and there should be more where that came from…Greg Olsen has averaged 2.5 catches and 29.8 yards per game this season. The Mike Martz tight end effect is real…Mike Williams entered Week 6 with 11 catches for 138 yards on the season, so his outburst (10 catches, 123 yards) was quite unexpected. He was clearly a big part of Seattle’s game plan coming out of the team’s bye, and with Deion Branch traded away and no other strong WR options on the roster, this could be a sign of more big games to come. Williams was targeted 15 times Sunday – the second highest amount in the league in Week 6. He’s yet to score this season, but at 6-5, 235, he’s actually an ideal red-zone guy, so expect that to change shortly. Williams is an enigma with no guarantee he won’t disappear again, but playing for a Seahawks team that has been better than expected and facing a soft upcoming schedule, he can be a major fantasy factor if he truly emerges as Seattle’s No. 1 receiver.

Pretty crazy play in a high school game.

The Packers have lost three of their past four games. One of their wins was by two points at home against a Lions team that has lost 24 straight road games. Another win came against an 0-5 Bills team. Another came in Week 1 against a Philly squad that lost its quarterback mid game. It’s safe to say they’ve been something of a disappointment so far. That said, all three of Green Bay’s losses have been by three points (with the last two coming in overtime), and they have been extremely unlucky with injuries. I fully expect the Packers to play like one of the better teams in football over the rest of the year, but it’s worth noting their upcoming schedule looks like this: MIN, @NYJ, DAL, @MIN, @ATL (with later dates @NE and at home against the Giants). That’s a tough road ahead…After an NFL-high 17 targets Sunday, Brandon Marshall’s 63 looks on the year are the fourth most in football, and he’s already had his bye (the three above him have not). Call it a fluke Marshall has just one touchdown so far.

Calvin Johnson already has as many touchdowns this season as he did all of last year, and rarely has a player made an 87-yard score look so easy as he did Sunday…Ahmad Bradshaw leads the NFL with 21 carries for 10-plus yards (second most is 17 by Arian Foster). He’s also got a whopping 7.1 YPC during fourth quarters, which also leads all backs (minimum 10 carries). It’s too bad he loses goal-line carries to Brandon Jacobs, or Bradshaw would be a top-five fantasy back.

So maybe the Saints have some juice inside them this year after all. It sure took them long enough to get Robert Meachem properly involved…Earnest Graham left Sunday’s game after aggravating a hamstring injury, but he’s on the radar thanks to Kareem Huggins’ season-ending knee injury and Carnell Williams’ continued ineptitude. LeGarrette Blount remains an intriguing prospect, but the Bucs’ coaching staff doesn’t trust him in pass protection, which is the main reason Williams continues to dominate touches despite averaging a hideous 2.5 YPC. Graham is no long-term solution at the position for Tampa Bay, but he can both pass protect and provide an upgrade as a ballcarrier (6.4 YPC in limited work this year), so there’s no reason he shouldn’t get a bigger chance as long as he’s healthy. He’s worth stashing in deeper leagues…As if things weren’t bad enough for Pierre Thomas owners, who are already dealing with an ankle injury that’s much more serious than they were originally led to believe, his usage is likely to take a hit with the emergence of Chris Ivory even when he returns. Ivory isn’t used on passing downs, but he’s averaged 6.3 YPC this season and looks legit. He’s going to remain a factor in New Orleans’ backfield over the rest of the season.

So I finally saw “The Social Network” and loved it. My boy David Fincher totally redeemed himself after the disaster that was “Benjamin Button.” Speaking of which, this article about Sean Parker is well worth reading.

I’m beginning to think San Diego plays better at home than on the road…Tough injury for owners of Malcom Floyd, who has the fourth most receiving yards in football despite getting just 15 yards before departing last week. With Antonio Gates also banged up, and Philip Rivers playing out of his mind, fantasy owners in need of WR help can take advantage of the situation by adding Legedu Naanee, Patrick Crayton and/or Craig Davis, although admittedly, it’s unclear which one will benefit the most…After a quiet first three years at Missouri, Danario Alexander led the NCAA in receiving yards during his senior year last season, finishing with 113 receptions for 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns over 13 games. A mid-round prospect, Alexander went undrafted thanks to surgery on his left knee (his fourth operation on the same knee), but he was later signed to the Rams’ practice squad. He impressed by totaling 72 receiving yards, including a 38-yard TD catch, during his NFL debut Sunday. Health remains an issue, and it’s important to remember he’s a rookie, but with Mardy Gilyard and Brandon Gibson underwhelming, the No. 1 WR role in St. Louis is wide open, and Alexander appears to have the most upside of the group.

Maybe they’ll be able to adjust with more time to prepare, but Houston’s run defense was noticeably worse after DeMeco Ryans was lost to a season-ending Achilles’ injury…Any Arian Foster owner who doesn’t also have Derrick Ward is playing with fire…Owen Daniels shouldn’t be unowned in any fantasy league right now…Nice to see my criticism last week personally inspired Dwayne Bowe to go out and prove me wrong. Now, if he could only find the self-motivation needed to succeed on a more consistent basis…Especially since it factored heavily into the outcome, here’s easily one of the worst calls of the 2010 season so far.

Odd that the Ravens have allowed the second fewest points in football (15.8) this year, yet with a modest 11 sacks and just five turnovers forced, they have been one of the weakest fantasy defenses…Deion Branch was quiet over the first three quarters with his new (and old) team before making a big impact in the fourth quarter and overtime Sunday, finishing with nine catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Those nine receptions matched the total Randy Moss had combined over his four games with the Pats this season. Branch isn’t a big play guy, but he’s always had a great rapport with Tom Brady (his 12 targets in Week 6 were tied for the fourth most in the NFL), and especially in PPR formats, he’s going to have plenty of value in fantasy leagues in New England. Also, Danny Woodhead should be added in all but shallow formats.

This was pretty insane. That dude is looking at quite a bit of jail time.

Despite entering 0-5, I’d argue the worst half of football played by the 49ers this season was Sunday against the Raiders, at least offensively. Good thing Alex Smith and company turned it around after halftime, as no one wants to see David Carr if they don’t have to…Before an impressive 32-yard TD strike to Michael Crabtree, Smith had a 6:0 TD:INT ratio in the red zone compared to a 0:9 TD:INT ratio outside it this season…Jason Campbell posted a lower quarterback rating than JaMarcus Russell ever did during Sunday’s loss.

There are a lot of issues regarding Prop 19 here in California, but this one I found rather amusing. Legalize it!

Apparently, it’s nearly impossible to go five consecutive games without committing a turnover in the NFL, as the Jets failed to set the record when Mark Sanchez was intercepted in the first quarter Sunday…I just so happened to end up with Shonn Greene on none of my fantasy teams this year, but I guarantee even if I had I wouldn’t have backed him up with LaDainian Tomlinson. Boy has he proven me wrong. It’s remarkable what he’s doing while approaching 3,000 career carries. Most backs break down at 2,000!…The Broncos’ last four opponents have a combined record of 17-7, so they will welcome a Bruce Gradkowski less Raiders team traveling to Denver this week.

I cannot believe my Giants are one game away from the World Series. Believe me, I fully expect them to lose the next three games, but just to be in this spot, I mean wow. I thought they’d finish around third place in a weak NL West. Fear the beard! (fast forward to the five minute mark).

Although the notion of him becoming a workhorse gets discouraging with news of Felix Jones vomiting at halftime, it sure was nice to see him so involved as a receiver. Jones entered the season with 21 catches over 20 games in his career, yet he caught all 10 of his targets Sunday…After totaling 44.5 sacks over the past 46 games, Jared Allen has just one sack over five games in 2010. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Allen has been the worst defensive end in football by a wide margin this year, struggling even more against the run than the pass (he has a measly five QB pressures). He’s been a major part of the problem in Minnesota…Despite their 1-4 record, Dallas still has something close to a 31% chance of making the playoffs.

Ryan Torain isn’t going to bust many long runs, but his ability to break tackles was pretty impressive Sunday night. Still, he showed up Monday with his knee all wrapped up, highlighting just how much an injury risk he is. Stash Keiland Williams to be safe…Pretty surprising to hear Dallas Clark might be out for the season. Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon would both get a boost on their already considerable fantasy value. Speaking of Garcon, what a sick catch this was.

What a horrible Monday night game. Chris Johnson owners are big Jeff Fisher fans. Talk about adding insult to injury for the Jaguars…Maurice Jones-Drew has managed only 3.9 YPC and has scored in just one of six games this season. Curiously, he’s also on pace to record only 32 catches this year after totaling 115 receptions over the previous two campaigns. It’s nice to see him fight it out and play through numerous injuries, but the situation in Jacksonville has killed Jones-Drew’s fantasy value, at least compared to where he was typically drafted. With the team possibly having to turn to Todd Bouman at quarterback, the offense could go from bad to worse, and Jones-Drew will suffer as a result, as he’s unlikely to see many scoring opportunities.

Bet on It

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 8-6, bringing my season record to 41-33-2. I won my best bet, so I’m 3-2 there. Onto the Week 6 picks:

Falcons +3 at EAGLES

Browns +13.5 at STEELERS (Best Bet)

Seahawks +6.5 at BEARS

LIONS +10.5 at Giants

Ravens +2.5 at PATRIOTS

Chargers -8 at RAMS

Dolphins +3 at PACKERS

Saints -4.5 at BUCCANEERS

Chiefs +4.5 at TEXANS

Jets -3 at BRONCOS

Raiders +6.5 at 49ers

COWBOYS +1.5 at Vikings

COLTS -3 at Redskins

Titans -3 at JAGUARS

Comments: The teams I like the most this week are the Bucs, Texans and Steelers and to a lesser extent, the Broncos and Eagles.

Podcast

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Check it out here. Or download through iTunes here.

The Scoop

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Not only did the Bears win with Todd Collins completing nearly as many passes to his opponent (four) as he did to his own team (six) while getting 2.0 YPA, they won by 17 points! Carolina is just plain brutal right now, with possibly the worst QB situation and WR corps in football. DeAngelo Williams’ fantasy value has really taken a hit as a result…Don’t give up on Johnny Knox just yet, as he should be worth using with Jay Cutler back in the lineup and as the Bears’ clear No. 1 wide receiver…Should be interesting in Week 6, as the shaky Chicago offensive line takes on a Seattle front seven that has quietly produced one of the best pass rushes in the NFL this season…In Week 5 Matt Forte more than doubled his rushing yard total over the first four games combined.

Terrell Owens is suddenly on pace to finish with the most receiving yards of his career. And he’s doing so with a quarterback who’s gotten just 6.6 YPA and is struggling mightily…Dez Bryant looks likely to be a future star, but there’s little doubt Mike Williams is the rookie with the most fantasy value in 2010. And maybe even long-term as well…Forget my previous advice to pick up LeGarrett Blount, who was completely lost from last week’s game plan. Not sure why Tampa Bay wouldn’t give him a chance to ignite such a stagnant running game, but coach Raheem Morris doesn’t seem willing to do so, at least for the time being.

Watched “The Town” the other day and liked it. The final 20 minutes fizzled, but it was actually really good until then. Jeremy Renner (who’s from “The 209” like yours truly) steals every scene he’s in. I still need to see “The Social Network.” It actually doesn’t interest me all that much, but it got a ridiculous 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, and more importantly, David Fincher directed it, so I’ll check it out soon.

Hated to see Mark Clayton suffer a season-ending injury. What a devastating loss both to the Rams and to his fantasy owners. He was shaping up to be one of the biggest waiver wire steals of the year, and St. Louis’ offense came to a halt after his departure. Danny Amendola is the obvious add in PPR formats, but those in deeper leagues searching for WR help, take a flier on Brandon Gibson and/or Mardy Gilyard…Calvin Johnson just can’t stay healthy. What a shame. And Matthew Stafford sure seems like a slow healer as well…Jahvid Best hasn’t scored since Week 2 and continued to miss practice time with his turf toe injury this week, but it’s encouraging Detroit gave him 18 carries Sunday – a season-high. With an upcoming bye in Week 7 to heal, don’t rule out a big second half.

I must say, I didn’t see that Giants’ blowout coming. I still worry about the team committing too many turnovers on offense, but that defense is back to playing like an elite unit. Suddenly, New York is in the argument as one of the best teams in the NFC…If you need tight end help and Owen Daniels is sitting on your wire, now might not be a bad time to add him. He’ll get better as the year progresses and don’t forget, he was on pace to finish with 80 catches for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns before suffering the knee injury last season…After recording 12 catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns (he easily could have had four), Hakeem Nicks is now in the conversation as a top-five receiver – both in real life and in fantasy leagues. Nicks dominates targets inside the red zone, yet he’s also explosive, and while he had a couple of drops Sunday, his hands aren’t a problem, as he also made some terrific catches as well. Nicks is on pace to finish the season with 106 catches for 1,309 yards and 19 touchdowns. While those lofty TD numbers aren’t realistic, he’s more of a “hold” than a “sell-high.”

Adam Carolla’s take (not mine): “I don’t like all the pink breast cancer NFL crap. We should force the chicks in the WNBA to wear brown head bands for colon cancer.” Speaking of which, got to love Boomer.

Facing a Ravens secondary that entered having allowed an NFL-low 5.2 YPA and just one passing touchdown on the year, Kyle Orton threw for 314 yards (8.3 YPA) and two touchdowns last week. While some of that came in garbage time, he’s officially matchup proof. Start him with confidence this week against a Jets defense that has allowed 7.0 YPA (tied for 15th in the league) and nine scores through the air (tied for fifth most) with a gimpy Darrelle Revis. Also, don’t be shocked if the Broncos pull off the upset with New York having a letdown and traveling during a short week…Any window to buy Ray Rice low is now long gone. Not only did he look completely over his knee injury while getting 4.9 YPC Sunday, but Rice appears to have taken over goal-line duties as well. After Willis McGahee was stuffed, Rice easily converted both his attempts from the one-yard line, which is huge news moving forward. The Ravens’ schedule looks favorable from here on out, so fantasy owners should enjoy the ride…Baltimore’s secondary still doesn’t have a single interception this season.

The drop off from Seneca Wallace to Jake Delhomme was dramatic, and Colt McCoy having to face the Steelers’ defense in Pittsburgh this week is a mismatch of epic proportions. The Browns’ offense needs Wallace to get healthy in a hurry…Michael Turner is up to 4.5 YPC on the year, and after scoring 27 touchdowns over his previous 27 games since joining Atlanta entering the year, he has just one TD in 2010. It’s a fluke – expect the touchdowns to start coming in bunches, making him a possible target in trade talks this week.

Consider me pumped up.

Peyton Manning finished last week with a 65.0 QB rating, getting just 5.5 YPA with a 0:1 TD:INT ratio. I feel bad for Washington’s defense playing him in primetime Sunday night…Dwayne Bowe dropped multiple passes last week, one being a sure touchdown. It’s nice that he seems to finally have coach Todd Haley’s confidence, but maybe Bowe just isn’t any good. Forget stardom, it’s now worth questioning if he’s even a league average wide receiver…Jamaal Charles totaled 100 yards last week for the third time in four games this season, but the bigger news was his usage, as he saw 19 touches compared to just eight by Thomas Jones. It’s past due, as Jones has averaged just 3.9 yards-per-touch compared to 7.4 by Charles. In fact, Charles’ 6.5 YPC leads the NFL by a wide margin. He did lose a fumble, which is cause for concern for someone who’s dealt with ball security issues in the past, but the hit was brutal, so it wasn’t a negligence issue. All it would take is 20 touches per game for him to be a top-five fantasy back. Try to trade for him now before it’s too late…Speaking of Charles, Dan Dierdorf called him a “change of pace” Sunday – and he’s right, the pace changes from slow to fast whenever he enters the game over Jones.

The Bills have now allowed five touchdowns to tight ends this season. Only one other team has allowed as many as four…Looks like Deji Karim is the new handcuff for Maurice Jones-Drew owners. Speaking of MJD, while he’s disappointed, been constantly banged up and has a pretty tough schedule coming up, he actually makes for a solid “hold” or trade target for fantasy teams off to strong starts, as Jacksonville’s schedule in Weeks 14-16 (Oak, @Ind, Was) appears to be extremely favorable against the run…Don’t look now, but Ryan Fitzpatrick has a 10:2 TD:INT ratio over his past four games, dating back to last season.

I thought this commercial was pretty funny. And then this one took it to another level.

What a tough Week 5 for the Packers, whose overtime loss was compounded by multiple injuries, with none bigger than the loss of Jermichael Finley. My condolences to all Finley owners out there…Is Mike McCarthy just a bad coach, or what?…I’d still start Ryan Torain this week at home against the Colts, but one stat was misleading in his matchup versus Green Bay. The Packers entered having allowed 5.2 YPC – the second highest mark in the NFL. However, that number was greatly skewed by Michael Vick, who ran for 103 yards on 11 carries as a quarterback GB wasn’t prepared to defend. Washington’s offensive line has problems, but credit a strong performance by what looks like a tough Packers’ run defense for shutting down the Redskins’ ground game Sunday.

Pretty insane that the Cardinals put up 30 points without recording a passing or rushing touchdown Sunday. Max Hall is plenty raw, but he was an immediate upgrade over Derek Anderson. Maybe Larry Fitzgerald’s fantasy value can be salvaged after all…Marques Colston is on pace to finish with 918 yards. And he’s yet to score a touchdown this season…Even at his own 20, you know Sean Payton’s decision to punt down 10 points on 4th-and-2 was wrong because essentially everything that followed went perfectly: a three-and out by Arizona, then a six play drive resulting in a touchdown by New Orleans, then another three-and-out by Arizona (including an inexplicable pass play by the Cards with 50 seconds left when the Saints had zero timeouts), which led to the Saints getting the ball at their own nine-yard line with 10 seconds left down three points. Payton apparently believes he had a better chance at recovering an onside kick (and forcing two three-and-outs on defense) than gaining two yards on offense…Chris Wells managed just 1.8 YPC Sunday, but the opportunity given to him could be huge news moving forward. Wells saw 20 carries compared to just four for Tim Hightower (who was even worse with a 1.5 YPC mark), as he took over lead back duties. It’s worrisome Wells was so unsuccessful while playing at home against a mediocre Saints defense, but he should emerge from the team’s Week 6 bye fully recovered from his knee injury and with valuable practice time running with the ones under his belt. A struggling passing attack limits his upside, and he seemingly always disappoints, but the Cardinals benefit from an easy schedule, and Wells does possess talent, so there’s some upside here if he’s finally given a full workload.

The Cowboys might be the most confounding team in football, capable of beating any team in the league and also losing to a doormat any given Sunday. A coaching change here can’t come soon enough…With Justin Gage sidelined with a hamstring injury, Kenny Britt has been given the chance to shine, and he didn’t disappoint Sunday, catching four balls for 86 yards and a score, which marked the third straight week he’s reached the end zone. A dominant target in the red zone, Britt is easily the most talented receiver on Tennessee’s roster, and it appears he may finally be out of coach Jeff Fisher’s doghouse. This is still a run-first team, but Britt is clearly Vince Young’s No. 1 option in the passing game, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t remain in the starting lineup indefinitely, regardless of Gage’s health. Britt should be owned in all fantasy leagues…The Cowboys coaches made good on their promise to get Felix Jones more involved in the offense in Week 5, as he saw 19 touches compared to six for an ineffective Marion Barber. Considering Jones got 7.3 YPC versus just 3.2 for Barber, there’s reason for this discrepancy only to grow moving forward. Dallas lost Sunday, but the offense produced more than 500 yards, so getting Jones on the field certainly helped. It remains to be seen if he can stay healthy with an increased workload, but Jones immediately becomes a viable flex option with his new role, with the potential for much more.

New albums by Sufjan Stevens and Kings of Leon both seem to be worth checking out.

Antonio Gates has scored in nine straight games dating back to last season and has hit paydirt a whopping 13 times over the past 11 contests. He’s on pace to destroy all his previous career-highs this season…I’m beginning to think the Chargers’ special teams is a below average unit…Where did that come from, Jason Campbell?…I rank Malcom Floyd as a top-12 fantasy WR right now (I’d take him over Greg Jennings), but all bets are off if Vincent Jackson returns soon like recent reports suggest. I got that one way wrong. I didn’t think he’d come back this year…According to Pro Football Focus, San Diego has had by far the worst pass blocking in the NFL so far (the Jets have had the best), which makes what Philip Rivers is doing (9.6 YPA!) all that more impressive.

I’ve been to both 49ers’ home games this season and have witnessed nine turnovers over two games. I’m not an Alex Smith apologist, but I’ve never in my life seen a crowd turn on a player like that. Even if Smith is a D+, that doesn’t mean you make a switch if the alternative is an F (David Carr). After Vernon Davis talked Mike Singletary out of making the switch (and also talked Smith into fighting to stay in), it was pretty cool to watch them hook up for a sick 36-yard connection followed by a touchdown, as Smith nearly led the team to an incredible comeback over the final eight minutes. Of course, San Francisco ultimately lost, but at least they made it interesting (and covered the back end of my teaser by a half point)…Kevin Kolb played really well Sunday, and it looks like the Eagles are in capable hands until Michael Vick is ready to return. LeSean McCoy looks like the real deal too. This Eagles team is absolutely loaded with young talent, especially at the skill positions – they should continue to be playoff contenders for years to come. Remarkable…Michael Crabtree finally broke out in Week 5, as he nearly doubled his reception and yardage totals over the first four games during Sunday’s outing, and the TD was his first of the season as well. The 11.7 yards-per-catch wasn’t overly impressive, but Crabtree clearly has talent, and hopefully this is a sign of big things to come. Finally he and Alex Smith appear to be on the same page, so Crabtree should be a fantasy asset moving forward (assuming the team doesn’t switch to Carr, ostensibly in an effort to secure a high pick in next year’s draft. In that case, bring on Andrew Luck!).

Randy Moss’ fantasy value really had nowhere to go but up after joining Minnesota, but Percy Harvin may be the biggest beneficiary of all. He’s just so much better suited in the slot. Start him with confidence moving forward…The Jets have tied an NFL record with four straight games without a turnover…Calling a pass play with the two minute warning approaching is actually the right call, but what was Mark Sanchez thinking hiking the ball with so much time left on the play clock?…Think Brett Favre regrets not retiring right about now?

Bet on It

Friday, October 8th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 10-4, bringing my season record to 33-27-2. I won my best bet, so I’m 2-2 there. Onto the Week 5 picks:

Jaguars pick ‘em at BILLS

Chiefs +8 at COLTS (Best Bet)

BUCCANEERS +6.5 at Bengals

PACKERS -2.5 at Redskins

Rams +3 at LIONS

Bears -2.5 at PANTHERS

Giants +3 at TEXANS

BRONCOS +7 at Ravens

FALCONS – 3 at Browns

Saints -7 at CARDINALS

TITANS +6.5 at Cowboys

Chargers -6 at RAIDERS

Eagles +3.5 at 49ers

Vikings +4 at JETS

Comments: Not an easy slate this week, and I’m not exactly comfortable backing the biggest spread on the board against an undefeated team coming off a bye, but so be it – the Colts are my best bet.

Podcast

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

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The Scoop

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

The 49ers continue to find new ways to lose, with Sunday being the most frustrating yet. All Nate Clements had to do was lay on the ground after his interception (instead he tried to return it and got stripped from behind), and it’s game over. What was he thinking? Even if he returns it for a touchdown, that actually was a better scenario for the Falcons (who would get the ball back immediately, and it would still be a one score game). Dumbest play of the 2010 season so far…Roddy White has been targeted 50 times this season, easily the most in the NFL. He’s firmly in the discussion as the top fantasy wideout…I’m not overly concerned about Michael Turner’s declining YPC (3.8) and still view him as a top-10 fantasy commodity, but Jason Snelling is noticeably quicker when he enters Atlanta’s backfield…Matt Ryan is 15-1 at home during his career.

Lee Evans is on pace to finish the year with 376 receiving yards…It’s far from an ideal situation, but with Marshawn Lynch traded, maybe the Bills’ backfield can have some fantasy value after all. Fred Jackson has the higher floor, but C.J. Spiller has by far the most upside. I’d prefer the latter…After a poor Week 1 against a Ravens defense that has allowed an NFL-low 5.2 YPA with just one passing touchdown this season, Mark Sanchez has gotten 7.9 YPA with an 8:0 TD:INT ratio. He hasn’t been sacked over the past two games and hasn’t lost a fumble this year either. Only one other QB (Mike Vick) in football has yet to throw an interception this season. With a strong running game led by the rejuvenated LaDainian Tomlinson (who rushed for 100 yards Sunday for the first time in 26 games), Sanchez’s fantasy upside is limited, as he’s averaged just 25.8 passing attempts per game, but the addition of Santonio Holmes gives him yet another weapon moving forward. Sanchez looks like the real deal.

Mike Wallace is on pace for just 36 receptions and has essentially been worthless in three of four games this season, but he’s clearly talented and should really improve once Ben Roethlisberger returns after the bye. Target him now before it’s too late…Baltimore’s touchdown with 34 seconds left Sunday cost me a perfect 8-0 ATS during the morning games. Not that anyone cares…Not sure what to make of Ray Rice right now. His YPC has dropped from 5.3 last year to 3.8, and he’s on pace to catch about half the amount of balls as he did in 2009. And he’ll never be the goal-line guy. The knee injury is a real mystery, so the safe play would be to stay away. However, he was a full participant in practice Wednesday and is coming off a tough matchup in Pittsburgh, so I’d personally try to buy-low here.

What’s going on with New Orleans? The defense taking a step back isn’t a shock, but the offense has regressed as well. It took Drew Brees nearly 50 pass attempts to reach 275 yards at home against the Panthers on Sunday, as New Orleans continues to struggle throwing deep. After getting 8.5 YPA last season, Brees is down to 7.1 this year…Chris Ivory certainly looks like he could put up big numbers if given the opportunity, but he struggles with fumbles and in pass protection, and the Saints love their running back by committee anyway. The real question is how will Pierre Thomas be used once he returns to the lineup. Thomas is officially injury-prone, and he needs to be downgraded for it at draft tables in the future…DeAngelo Williams’ 39-yard touchdown run was sick, with a cutback few other RBs in the league could make. Don’t let Jonathan Stewart’s final stats fool you into thinking he can be used as a flex right now, as his 55-yard TD catch came on complete blown coverage, and Stewart still almost didn’t score when the 10-yard line apparently tripped him…Those who backed New Orleans in survivor got lucky. Not only did Steve Smith leave injured over the final 1.5 quarters, but Carolina had the ball at the Saints’ 36-yard line on 2nd-and-8 with 1:46 left. Of course, the Panthers are awful this year and proceeded to lose eight yards over the next two plays, effectively taking them out of field goal range.

Laurence Maroney has gotten 1.3 YPC since joining Denver. Funny how badly the Broncos could use Peyton Hillis…The blocking just hasn’t been the same for Tennessee this season. Chris Johnson is still the clear No. 2 fantasy player (unless you prefer Arian Foster), but Adrian Peterson has definitely passed him as No. 1…It hasn’t been easy predicting production from Broncos receivers on a weekly basis, but it’s become clear Brandon Lloyd is currently the team’s No. 1 option. After seeing a whopping 18 targets last week, he’s now up to 40 on the year, which is the seventh most in the NFL. The Broncos have no semblance of a running game, and Kyle Orton, who is fast developing into an elite QB, is on pace to attempt 700 passes this season. Lloyd is no sure bet to remain Denver’s No. 1 WR over the rest of the year, and he’s disappointed in the past, but it’s hard not to consider him a top-25 fantasy wide receiver right now…Orton has the second most passing yards through four weeks in NFL history. The most ever is by Kurt Warner in 2000, when he managed a decent 11.5 YPA to start the season.

Terrell Owens entered Sunday with just 14 catches for 152 yards and no scores over three games, so few could have seen such an outburst (10 catches, 222 yards, one TD) coming. The Browns decided to double cover Chad Ochocinco, and Owens’ 78-yard touchdown catch came when a Cleveland corner fell down, but it’s hard to ignore 222 yards. Owens still has to deal with Carson Palmer’s declining skills and cedes plenty of targets to Ochocinco, but it’s clear he still has plenty left in the tank…Peyton Hillis has averaged 3.3 yards after contact, which is tied for the fifth highest in the NFL…Not sure why Cleveland is handing the QB job back to Jake Delhomme. Seneca Wallace isn’t going to be their savior by any means, but at least he limits turnovers. The Browns have played competitive football so far, but Delhomme could single-handedly change that.

Pretty crazy Green Bay’s offense produced zero points over the final 35+ minutes at home against the Lions…After entering the year averaging 15.9 yards-per-catch during his career, Calvin Johnson has managed just 11.9 this season, and he’s finally healthy. At least he’s been utilized in the red zone, but I can’t help but think how poorly Detroit uses such a dangerous weapon.

After another 14 targets Sunday, Mark Clayton is up to 41 on the year – good for sixth in the league. What an underrated trade by the Rams. Who knew he had such ability to contort and change positions to grab deep balls. And while his hands were previously a question mark, he’s been rock solid there too. He’s been a steal for St. Louis and his fantasy owners…Funny how Sam Bradford is already clearly the best quarterback in his division…Justin Forsett averaged 20.5 touches over the past two games, dominating the carries in Seattle’s backfield. Unfortunately, he failed to impress, averaging just 3.6 YPC, so the Seahawks traded for Marshawn Lynch. Expect Forsett to be nothing more than a third down back moving forward, as Lynch is likely to dominate early down work and short-yardage situations. We’ll see if he can take advantage of his new role while playing in an easier division…Chris Long has been useless in IDP leagues so far with just one sack and eight tackles, but it’s worth noting his 22 quarterback pressures easily lead the NFL. In fact, the second most is 18. More sacks, and possibly in bunches, should be in store.

After bragging about my near 8-0 start ATS Sunday, I’d be remiss not to reveal my losing two-team teaser, which featured the Chargers and Colts. Let me say, I’m not the biggest Jim Caldwell fan, to say the least. There have been plenty of coaching mistakes so far in 2010, but Caldwell’s decision to call a timeout when Jacksonville had the ball with 42 seconds left on 2nd-and-2 was by far the worst yet. The Jaguars were conceding overtime! Here’s the alternative – either the Colts win the coin toss and get the ball to start OT, or the teams are essentially in the same exact situation (Jags ball around the 25-yard line). And again, it was 2nd-and-2! Indy gave up 5.0 YPC on the day! That was indefensible, but just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, Caldwell calls a timeout to “ice” Josh Scobee when the Jags’ special teams unit was rushing to line up for a 59-yard field goal with one second left on the play clock. They probably would have got the play off, but again, it would have been rushed. Brilliant! Caldwell is an idiot…Scobee’s 59-yarder by the way was the third longest game winning FG in the history of the NFL…Peyton Manning is on pace to throw for 5,460 yards, and his lone interception this season was a perfectly thrown ball that wasn’t his fault Sunday…Have a game, Reggie Wayne…Mike Sims-Walker was held without a catch for the second time this season, seeing just one target in the process. He has just 23 looks all year and seems to be a much smaller part of Jacksonville’s offense compared to last year. It would be rash to go dropping Sims-Walker, but there’s no way he can safely be used right now either. He’s looking like a bust.

Houston is shaping up to be an ideal opponent for your fantasy QB. Not only do they have a highly susceptible secondary (8.7 YPA, 8:2 TD:INT ratio), but the Texans continue to stop the run, which dates back to the second half of last season. Moreover, Houston is sure to put plenty of points on the board on offense, so your QB will be asked to throw frequently. Good news for Eli Manning and company in Week 5…If a draft were held today, Arian Foster shouldn’t make it past the third pick…Michael Bush appeared to take over goal-line work last week, but his value took an even bigger jump when Darren McFadden suffered a hamstring injury. It’s supposedly not serious, but McFadden is unlikely to play in Week 5, so Bush is relevant again. For those who own both in fantasy leagues, the way these two backs have rotated injuries has been perfect so far, as the worst case scenario would be having them both healthy and in a timeshare (well, that and both being injured at the same time). As long as McFadden is sidelined, Bush is a weekly RB2.

Ryan Mathews, who was dealing with an unreported elbow injury suffered in practice last week as well as his previous ankle sprain during Sunday’s game, looks like a decent buy-low candidate. The same could be said for Chris Wells…After Derek Anderson completed just 51.8 percent of his passes, Arizona has decided to go in a different direction, naming rookie Max Hall the team’s starting quarterback. Anderson recorded one touchdown and committed six turnovers during three games on the road this season. Larry Fitzgerald’s fantasy value is looking down either way, but the switch here certainly can’t hurt. The alternative has been a big problem…I keep hearing how Vincent Jackson is unlikely to play before Week 10, but isn’t the most likely scenario him sitting out the entire season? That would certainly be my best guess.

Tough break for Michael Vick, who suffered damage to his ribs last week and will miss at least one game and possibly a few more. It’s too bad since he was playing so well, and he’s sure to get the starting job back once he returns, but this shows the greater risk involved with quarterbacks who run opposed to those who always stay in the pocket. Kevin Kolb needs to be added in fantasy leagues, but he’s a clear downgrade…It must be noted just how injury-prone Ryan Torain has been throughout his career, and Keiland Williams could step into the mix as well, but those who picked up Torain last week could be sitting on a goldmine. Clinton Portis’ groin injury is serious, as he’ll likely miss 4-6 weeks and quite possibly the rest of the season. Mike Shanahan has heaped praise on Torain, calling him, “A top back in the National Football League. There’s no question about it.” While there’s some hyperbole there, remember it was Shanahan who drafted Torain back in 2008 in Denver, and the RB has averaged 4.6 YPC throughout his brief career. He’s an ideal fit for Washington’s system, and Shanahan wants to make the Redskins a run-heavy team. Torain is a must-start this week at home against the Packers, and if he somehow manages to stay healthy, don’t be surprised if he’s a top-15 fantasy back over the rest of the season.

What an ugly football game that was Sunday night. The nine first half sacks were comical, but the 14 combined penalties and six total fumbles were pathetic…Hakeem Nicks is the real deal and should be considered a borderline top-10 fantasy wide receiver from here on out. Don’t give up on Johnny Knox – things will get better. Try to trade for him, in fact…Ahmad Bradshaw gained 129 rushing yards on 23 carries (5.6 YPC) against a Bears team that entered allowing the fewest YPC in football. Over the last three games, Brandon Jacobs has just 14 rushing attempts compared to 55 by Bradshaw, so this backfield belongs to the latter. Bradshaw is dealing with a sore ankle, and it remains to be seen how many carries he can withstand as a workhorse over a season, but he’s currently on pace to finish the year with 1,772 total yards and 12 touchdowns. He should be viewed as a top-12 fantasy back…Chris Collinsworth actually said Jacobs has “soft hands” during Sunday’s telecast. What?? Jacobs has improved as a receiver, and I generally like Collinsworth, but only Shonn Greene and Michael Turner have worse hands than Jacobs…Love when Al Michaels talks about the spread at the end of games like he did Sunday. Take that NFL.

Almost everyone predicted Monday night’s game to be a shootout, so naturally, the score was 7-6 at halftime. A 28 point outburst in the third quarter eased the minds of those who took the over, and it also pleased those who used New England’s fantasy defense, who scored three touchdowns in three different ways…BenJarvus Green-Ellis has averaged 87 rushing yards and a touchdown over the past two games, securing his role as the Patriots’ lead back. Of course, that’s yet to result in 25+ touches in an offense that is pass-heavy, but he’s clearly established himself as the No. 1 option (he’s never fumbled in his career), and with the trade of Randy Moss, New England may shift offensive philosophies a bit. Green-Ellis isn’t going to be a workhorse like other backs in the league, but he’s the favorite for carries and goal-line work on an offense that should put up plenty of points, so he’s got value…Davone Bess has racked up 15 catches over the past two weeks, and while he’s not a dangerous downfield weapon or a major threat in the red zone, he’s suddenly a hot commodity in PPR formats. If defenses continue to focus on Brandon Marshall, Bess is Chad Henne’s next read underneath, and the wideout is actually pretty impressive, with good hands and after the catch ability…Tom Brady will continue to be an every week starter in fantasy leagues, but the loss of Randy Moss definitely hurts his value. Even when Moss wasn’t catching balls, he was demanding defenders’ attention and opening up lanes underneath. While Aaron Hernandez has been highly impressive, Wes Welker isn’t close to being back to 100 percent and has averaged just 8.3 yards-per-catch, and he’ll see more double teams moving forward too. The team appears to be asking an awful lot from Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman. Moss must have really been a problem for New England to deal him for a third round pick in a year they are likely to make the playoffs.

Bet on It

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 7-9, bringing my season record to 23-23-2. I lost my best bet, so I’m 1-2 there. Onto the Week 4 picks:

JETS -5 at Bills

Ravens +1 at STEELERS

Seahawks -1 at RAMS

49ers +7 at Falcons

Bengals -3 at BROWNS

BRONCOS +6.5 at Titans

PANTHERS +14 at Saints

LIONS +14.5 at Packers

Texans – 3 at RAIDERS

COLTS -7.5 at Jaguars

REDSKINS +6 at Eagles

Cardinals +8.5 at CHARGERS (Best Bet)

Bears +4 at GIANTS

Patriots -1 at DOLPHINS

Comments: The Jets, 49ers, Colts and Dolphins were my least confident picks…I expect the Chargers to roll, but I was also close to making the Rams my best bet.