Archive for November, 2010

Bet on It

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 7-9, bringing my season record to 80-76-4. I won my best bet, so I’m 7-4 there. Onto the Week 12 picks:

Patriots -7 at LIONS

Saints -4 at COWBOYS

BENGALS +9 at Jets

Vikings +1.5 at REDSKINS

STEELERS -6.5 at Bills

PANTHERS +10 at Browns

TITANS +6.5 at Texans

Jaguars +7.5 at GIANTS

Packers +2 at FALCONS (Best Bet)

CHIEFS -1 at Seahawks

DOLPHINS +3 at Raiders

BUCCANEERS +8 at Ravens

EAGLES -3 at Bears

RAMS +4 at Broncos

Chargers +3 at COLTS

49ers -1 at CARDINALS

Comments: Despite a full 16-game slate, this might qualify as my least favorite of the season when it comes to a “best bet,” but I’ll reluctantly take the Falcons. I hate this week. I’m going to get killed.

The Scoop

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Tyler Thigpen was unimpressive, but this Bears defense is legit. Should be interesting to see how they fare against Michael Vick and company in Week 12…Brandon Marshall hasn’t reached 65 yards receiving since Week 6 and is now dealing with a hamstring injury that could sideline him for a while. He’s quietly been one of the biggest busts this season.

Over the last three weeks, Mike Wallace has racked up 16 catches for 362 receiving yards and four scores. At 6-0, 199 lbs, Wallace is far from an ideal red-zone target, but thanks to an NFL-high 23.0 yards per catch, his eight touchdowns are tied for the sixth-most among wide receivers. He’s averaged 91.3 yards receiving (with six TDs) over six games since Ben Roethlisberger returned from his suspension, a season’s pace good for 1,461 yards. This is Wallace’s second year in the league, so the sky is the limit…That was a highly questionable penalty that took away a James Harrison pick six…At this point, Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster would become candidates to sit if they faced this Steelers’ run defense.

Maurice Jones-Drew has averaged 164.0 yards and a touchdown over the past three games, as he’s looked far healthier than earlier in the season. David Garrard, who has thrown 13 touchdowns over the last five games he’s finished, has improved Jacksonville’s passing attack, and Jones-Drew has benefitted. After a tough upcoming two-game stretch, the Jaguars’ schedule is highly favorable over Weeks 14-16 (Oak, @ Ind, Was). Jones-Drew isn’t going to live up to his preseason ADP as a top-three pick, but he could still finish with first round value…Both back to health, why in the world is Eric Mangini choosing to start Jake Delhomme over Seneca Wallace? I’d shy away from Cleveland in survivor pools as a result.

Keiland Williams managed just 3.0 YPC in a tough matchup in Tennessee in Week 11, but thanks to his involvement as a receiver, he’s totaled 234 yards (with three scores) over the past two games since taking over as Washington’s lead back. With Clinton Portis and Ryan Torain out indefinitely, the job could be Williams’ for the foreseeable future, making him a top-20 fantasy back. James Davis is on the radar as well…It’s become clear Vince Young and Jeff Fisher can’t coexist. Owner Bud Adams may have to make a decision during the offseason, and right or wrong, don’t be surprised if he chooses the quarterback…Randy Moss has one catch for 26 yards over two games with Tennessee. He entered his age 33 season averaging 77.8 receiving yards per game during his career, which is the second most in NFL history. He’s averaged 33.9 yards per game in 2010. Meanwhile, Terrell Owens, who will turn 37 years old in two weeks, has averaged 89.7 yards per game this season…Having Tennessee in a teaser, let me just say rooting for Rusty Smith (“I once knew a horse named Rusty. No offence.”) was a terrifying experience. How about Graham Gano coming up short on the 47-yard field goal attempt? And on Washington’s game-winning drive in overtime, a whopping 35 yards came via penalty.

Houston’s pass defense is truly embarrassing, but New York deserves a ton of credit, even if they have been a bit lucky this season. The cardiac Jets will have to fight off overlooking a dead Bengals team on Thanksgiving with an upcoming matchup in New England on Monday night in Week 13…Joel Dreessen is a TE1 as long as Owen Daniels is sidelined.

The biggest market inefficiency in the NFL these days might just be bad character guys. Dez Bryant, Michael Vick, Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount were all huge bargains.

Mike Goodson has totaled 264 yards over the last two games, including getting 5.5 YPC against Baltimore last week despite having Brian St. Pierre as his quarterback. The team has always been high on the former fourth round pick, but he’s never gotten much of a chance stuck behind two running backs who have arguably both been top-five talents in the league over the past two seasons. However, Goodson’s fantasy value hinges on the health of Jonathan Stewart, who returned to practice Wednesday. Whoever is Carolina’s starting RB in Weeks 14 and 15 (at home against Atlanta and Arizona) will be strong starts during the fantasy playoffs…If T.J. Houshmandzadeh is getting behind your secondary for a 56-yard score, you know you’ve got problems.

Aaron Rodgers has been fantastic, but it’s worth noting just how well Green Bay’s defense has played. They have allowed just 10 points total over the past three games…There’s an argument to be made that Brett Favre has been the worst player in football this season.

After committing more turnovers than touchdowns last year, it’s pretty surprising to see Matt Cassel post an 18:4 TD:INT ratio in 2010…That marks 10 touchdowns over the past six games for Dwayne Bowe. How high will he go in fantasy drafts next year?…Remember when the Max Hall led Cardinals beat the Saints by 10 points back in Week 5? Seems like seasons ago. Arizona is battling Carolina as the best fantasy matchup for opposing defenses.

Jahvid Best’s three-carry, two-yard performance in Week 11 may be the final nail in his 2010 fantasy coffin. It was worth questioning at the time whether the two turf toe injuries he suffered earlier this season would hinder him all year, and especially in hindsight, the result appears obvious. He’ll be much cheaper in 2011 drafts as a result…What a horrible horse collar penalty on Ndamukong Suh when he clearly tackled Marion Barber by his hair, which is perfectly legal…Dallas has won both games (including their first at home all season Sunday) since Jason Garrett took over as head coach, averaging 34.0 points in the process. This team still has plenty of flaws, namely the offensive line and defense, but it’s safe to question why Jerry Jones took so long to fire Wade Phillips…With less than one minute remaining in the first half at their own four-yard line, why would Dallas call a run play for Felix Jones and not just kneel it? What’s more likely – a fumble or a 96-yard TD run? And of all teams, Dallas should know better after what happened in Week 1 against Washington.

Cincinnati became the first team in NFL history to lead by at least 17 points at halftime and lose by 18 or more…Carson Palmer has thrown multiple touchdowns in seven consecutive contests, so Cincy is dangerous for backdoor covers…Sunday marked the first interception by a Bills defensive back this season…Stevie “Why so serious?” Johnson now has nine touchdowns over the last eight games. Who saw that one coming?

Chris Ivory emerged from New Orleans’ bye as the team’s featured back, getting 23 carries compared to just four for Julius Jones. While Ivory is worthless in passing situations (he has just one catch on the year), he ran for 99 yards and a score against Seattle, and more importantly, Pierre Thomas (ankle) doesn’t appear close to returning to action. Ivory is hardly a guarantee, as the Saints’ running back situation has been fluid all year, but if a workhorse were ever to emerge for this team, there would be top-10 upside…Drew Brees is coming off a huge game, but his 7.1 YPA mark is an extremely low number for him, and he’s been intercepted in six straight games, totaling 12 over that span…Earl Thomas leads all safeties with five interceptions, has been an asset in run defense, and passers have accumulated a 48.7 QB rating during throws into his coverage. It looks like Seattle hit a home run with the 14th pick of last year’s draft…All five of Garrett Hartley’s misses this season have been wide left.

Pitchfork gave Kanye West’s new album a 10.0. That’s their first perfect score ever. Wow.

The 49ers were shut out at home for the first time since 1977, as Troy Smith took a major step backward. Should be interesting to see if San Francisco can lure a big name coach this offseason….DT Gerald McCoy hasn’t gotten nearly the pub that fellow rookie Ndamukong Suh has, but according to Pro Football Focus, he’s been the better player…The 49ers punted on 4th-and-4 from Tampa Bay’s 33-yard line Sunday. Good riddance, Mike Singletary…San Francisco has scored nearly as many points in the fourth quarter (77) as they have over the first three quarters combined (80) this season.

Matt Ryan has a 9:1 TD:INT ratio over the past four games, and impressively, has been sacked just twice over that span. His ability to avoid sacks really helps offset the mediocre YPA…Thanks to an utter lack of goal-line opportunities, Steven Jackson has just three touchdowns this season after scoring only four all of last year. For such a great player, it’s pretty crazy he’s scored more than eight TDs just once during his career.

While it doesn’t sound like Austin Collie suffered another concussion in Week 11, he obviously experienced a setback. He’s already been ruled out for Week 12, so this is clearly serious. It wouldn’t be a shock if Collie didn’t play another snap this season, which is a shame since he’s arguably been the Colts’ best receiver. Disappointing Pierre Garcon is going to have to step up…Tom Brady has totaled eight touchdowns over the past three games, and he hasn’t committed a turnover since Week 6…Peyton Manning’s 7.0 YPA mark is his lowest since his rookie season despite facing a remarkably friendly schedule against pass defenses.

If your league doesn’t use fractional scoring (0.1 points per rushing/receiving yard), it’s making a mistake.

After fumbling for the sixth time this season (and losing his fifth), Ahmad Bradshaw has lost his starting job to Brandon Jacobs. Fantasy owners shouldn’t panic, however, as even Jacobs has conceded he doesn’t expect the change to be permanent. As long as Bradshaw improves his ball security, it will be tough to keep him off the field. But Jacobs is suddenly back on the map…Asante Samuel is horrible in run defense, but opposing passers have accrued an NFL-low 35.3 QB rating when throwing into his coverage. That’s pretty good…Hakeem Nicks will miss at least three weeks after being diagnosed with compartment syndrome. It’s a massive blow to fantasy owners, since they’ll be losing a top-three fantasy wide receiver during crunch time. The good news is that the injury will lower his price tag at draft tables in 2011, although he’ll still almost certainly be gone by the end of the second round.

Mike Tolbert racked up 153 yards and a touchdown during the Chargers’ win over the Broncos on Monday night, as he took advantage of Ryan Mathews’ continued ankle problems. Since Tolbert is in line for goal-line carries anyway, fantasy leaguers who own both shouldn’t be rooting for Mathews to return anytime soon. Tolbert might not be quite as explosive as the rookie, but he’s surprisingly adept as a receiver for his size, and the aforementioned GL duties are huge. Mathews has averaged 2.3 YPC after contact this season, breaking nine tackles, while Tolbert has averaged 3.5 YPC after contact, forcing 15 missed tackles…It’s crazy how much better Brandon Lloyd has played compared to Brandon Marshall this season…While there’s some risk involved using someone who’s yet to play a single snap this year right away, it’s not like Vincent Jackson is returning from an injury, and he’ll be extra motivated with eyes toward a huge contract entering 2011. With Malcom Floyd Antonio Gates and Patrick Crayton all banged up, Jackson is going to be a major part of San Diego’s offense. It’s a terrific situation to be in considering how Philip Rivers has played this season (9.0 YPA, 23 TDs). Jackson immediately becomes a must-start in fantasy leagues.

My picks for the Thanksgiving games: Patriots -7 at LIONS, Saints -4 at COWBOYS and BENGALS +9 at Jets

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Bet on It

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 8-6, bringing my season record to 73-67-4. I won my best bet (by a margin of 27.5 points!), so I’m 6-4 there. Onto the Week 11 picks:

Bears +1.5 at DOLPHINS

Bills +5.5 at BENGALS

LIONS +7 at Cowboys

Cardinals +7.5 at CHIEFS (Best Bet)

TEXANS +7 at Jets

BROWNS +1 at Jaguars

Raiders +7.5 at STEELERS

RAVENS -10 at Panthers

PACKERS -3 at Vikings

Redskins +6 at TITANS

Falcons -3 at RAMS

Buccaneers +3 at 49ers

Seahawks +12 at SAINTS

COLTS +3.5 at Patriots

GIANTS +3 at Eagles

BRONCOS +10 at Chargers

Comments: I can’t think of a week with more teaser possibilities ever. I almost went with the 49ers as my best bet but decided to back Kansas City instead. The Chiefs are coming off back-to-back losses, including an embarrassing blowout against the Broncos last week, and they should take care of a bad Cardinals team at home…Also, I’m pretty sure this is the first week I haven’t backed Carolina, so bet the house on the Panthers.

Podcast

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Football and baseball talk. Check it out. Also, here’s my pick for Thursday night’s game: Bears +1.5 at DOLPHINS

The Scoop

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Thursday night games have been poorly played and often sluggish in the past, so it was nice to see such an exciting finish to the Falcons/Ravens contest, which featured 27 fourth quarter points. The non-PI call was egregious, but that was quite an impressive game-winning drive by Matt Ryan…Over the last four games, Joe Flacco has completed 66.9 percent of his passes while getting 8.0 YPA and posting a 10:1 TD:INT ratio. Few quarterbacks are playing at a higher level right now…How does Atlanta not go for two up 19-7 with 10 minutes left? It nearly cost them the game…Words can’t explain how bad Matt Millen and Joe Theismann were during the NFL Network’s telecast.

With Joseph Addai and Mike Hart both out, Indy’s backfield was Donald Brown’s for the taking in a favorable matchup at home against the Bengals in Week 10. That resulted in just 50 yards and him ceding goal-line carries once again to Javarris James. If Brown isn’t worth using in fantasy leagues in a plus matchup and as the starter, when will he ever be? Constantly battling injuries and poor in short-yardage situations, Brown has averaged a paltry 3.5 YPC during his career. Bill Polian can’t hit a home run with every draft pick…The Bengals haven’t won since they beat the Panthers in Week 3. Hard to believe this team had a home playoff game last season…Indy’s “hands” team remains pathetic.

Santonio Holmes had the game-winning 37-yard touchdown catch with just 16 seconds left in overtime last week, and he’s totaled 190 receiving yards over the past two weeks. It’s worth noting 95 of those yards came in overtime, but Holmes is finally getting starter’s snaps, and Jerricho Cotchery’s groin injury should lead to even more targets for Holmes. He’s arguably the Jets’ best receiver and should benefit from Mark Sanchez’s further development. Sanchez has thrown six interceptions over the past four games after not committing a single turnover during the first five games this season, but he made some spectacular plays last week and has gotten 7.7 YPA over the past two contests. New York’s passing attack will only get better…The Jets became the first team in NFL history to win back-to-back road games in overtime. They have won eight straight away from home…With 48 seconds left in regulation at the three yard line, not sure why Cleveland called a timeout (followed by a pass attempt), but New York then sitting on the ball (getting it at the 30 yard line after the kickoff) and conceding overtime was equally as perplexing.

The title of this news story really says it all.

One year after posting a 33:7 TD:INT ratio, Brett Favre has thrown 10 touchdowns while committing 21 turnovers in 2010…Jay Cutler has thrown five touchdowns over the past two weeks, and he’s been sacked just twice over that span, but he hasn’t reached 7.5 YPA in a game since Week 3 (he got 9.6 YPA over the first three games this year)…Matt Forte has gotten 3.5 YPC or fewer in seven of nine contests this season, and he’s topped 70 yards rushing just once in 2010. The offensive line has been a big reason why, but Forte is going to go down as a major fantasy disappointment for the second straight year.

Sunday’s win was Miami’s first at home this season…Tyler Thigpen has impressed when given the chance before (albeit coming mostly out of the Pistol formation. He’ll be asked to play under center for the Dolphins), and at this point, any change has to be welcomed by owners of Brandon Marshall, who hasn’t topped 65 yards in any of his past four games and is still stuck on one touchdown catch this year…Fantasy owners still counting on Randy Moss being a contributor are going to be left sorely disappointed…After failing to gain one yard per rushing attempt against the Titans, Ronnie Brown is down to 3.9 YPC this season, and he’s yet to top 80 yards rushing in a game. Normally health is Brown’s biggest issue, but performance has been the problem in 2010, as he’s on pace to finish with just 789 rushing yards. He remains locked in a timeshare, and it’s surprising to see the 33-year-old Ricky Williams outplay him.

During his last four full games (he was knocked out of Week 6 with a concussion), David Garrard has posted an 11:2 TD:INT ratio and gotten a whopping 10.0 YPA. Yet somehow, there isn’t a Jaguars receiver with much fantasy value…Houston is currently giving up 8.5 YPA, making them a dream matchup for opposing quarterbacks.

Fred Jackson totaled 170 yards with two touchdowns last week, and while it was the first time he reached 75 rushing yards in a game this season, he should continue to dominate Buffalo’s workload with C.J. Spiller already ruled out for Week 11 with a hamstring injury. Jackson is hardly a special talent (his six dropped passes are the most among all running backs), but the Bills’ offense has improved since Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken over QB duties, and he’s one of the few true workhorses in the NFL these days…I’ve been a Jahvid Best apologist all year, but it’s hard to defend him getting just 35 yards on 17 carries against a Bills defense that entered allowing the third most YPC (4.8) in football. After scoring five touchdowns over the first two games of his NFL career, Best hasn’t reached the end zone since, and he hasn’t gained 80 yards rushing even once during his rookie campaign. The ugly 3.1 YPC mark is a product of the poor Detroit run blocking as well as Best’s troublesome turf toe injuries, and neither problem is likely to be fixed until the offseason. Still, it’s worth noting that Kevin Smith is out after undergoing thumb surgery, and each of Detroit’s next four games will be played on turf, which highlights Best’s speed. Most owners will likely keep him on their benches, but because of his activity in the passing game, Best is still on pace to finish the season with 1,316 yards and nine TDs. He remains plenty useful in PPR formats…The Lions have the worst record in the history of the NFL for a team that has outscored its opponents.

The best mugshot of all-time.

Josh Freeman has gotten 10.0 YPA over the past three games, also tossing five touchdowns over that span. He’s averaged a modest 30 pass attempts per game this season, which limits his fantasy value, but Freeman has chipped in nearly 25 rushing yards per game as well. Mike Williams continues to develop into one of the more dangerous receivers in the league, and Tampa Bay now has a running back in LeGarrette Blount that defenses must pay attention to. During Weeks 13-16, the Bucs’ schedule is highly favorable (Atl, @Was, Det, Sea), so Freeman could be quite useful down the stretch…With DeAngelo Williams surprisingly landing on IR, and Jonathan Stewart continuing to miss practice after suffering a concussion (remember, it was so bad he was carted off the field), Mike Goodson’s fantasy value might not be short-lived after all.

Just as I didn’t expect the Broncos to get blown out 59-14 in Week 7, I didn’t see them destroying the Chiefs 49-29 during their next home game either. After being outscored 40-7 during the first quarter over the team’s previous eight games, Josh McDaniels decided to script Denver’s first 18 plays Sunday, and Kansas City was down 35-0 before they knew what hit them. And what was up with Todd Haley’s finger wag at McDaniels afterward?…After Week 5, I said this about Dwayne Bowe: “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.” Since then, he’s racked up 454 receiving yards with eight touchdowns over five games, putting me in my place. He benefited from being down big early last week (his 18 targets led the league), and his schedule couldn’t have been easier over that stretch, but it’s hard to argue with that kind of production, even if it’s past due. It’s nice to see Bowe finally living up to expectations.

After watching Manny Pacquiao absolutely dominate Antonio Margarito on Saturday night despite giving up 17 pounds, I want to see him fight Floyd Mayweather more than ever. With the latter’s legal issues piling up, it’s becoming increasingly less likely to happen, which might be the final nail in a dying sport’s coffin.

During his two starts this year, Troy Smith has gotten 11.7 YPA with two touchdowns and zero turnovers, both resulting in wins. Most of Smith’s damage has come outside the pocket, and his willingness to go downfield is a welcome sight in San Francisco. His numbers Sunday could have been bigger, as three TD passes were called back by penalties (and Josh Morgan was tackled at the one yard line). The former Heisman winner is sure to undergo some growing pains, and his fantasy value is limited playing for a run-first team, but he has some nice weapons to work with in Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. The Alex Smith era in San Francisco is officially over…There were 11 quarterbacks selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, and of them, only Smith and Tyler Thigpen will be starting in Week 11…How badass is Joe Staley returning to play with a fractured left fibula?…Brandon Gibson is back on the fantasy radar in deep leagues…It’s obviously still early, but Anthony Davis looks like a bust.

Here’s what I wrote while previewing the Giants/Cowboys game: “Still, this is a dangerous game for New York, who could overlook a seemingly dead Dallas team they already beat handily just two weeks ago. With injuries to the offensive line and to Steve Smith, and both teams likely to deal with natural regression, it wouldn’t surprise to see this division game closer than the huge point spread suggests.” I also made Dallas my “best bet” of the week, thinking the firing of Wade Phillips may also have a positive effect. And like a total idiot, I somehow still picked the Giants in my survivor pool. I had a great day in my fantasy leagues and won some money in a teaser, yet losing survivor ruined my entire weekend. I was genuinely depressed. I need help. Probably from a professional…Dez Bryant has averaged 91.3 yards over the past three games and has scored six touchdowns over the last five contests. Bryant’s emergence is bad news for Miles Austin’s fantasy value, but Tony Romo’s should skyrocket next season with both weapons at his disposal. Bryant is a special talent, capable of dominating both in the red zone and as a downfield playmaker. He’s going to enter next year as a top-10 wide receiver on most cheat sheets, and maybe even top-five.

Click “get directions” and type Japan to China. Then scroll to #43.

Mike Williams is averaging 11 catches and 116 yards with one touchdown over two games against the Cardinals this year. He’s averaging 3.4 catches and 44.7 yards with no scores over seven games against everyone else…Marshawn Lynch managed just 29 rushing yards on 13 carries last week against the Cardinals, which is especially discouraging since the Seahawks played mostly with a comfortable lead. After getting 4.4 YPC on a bad Buffalo team, Lynch has averaged just 2.9 YPC since getting traded to Seattle. He has played on bad teams his whole career, but it’s clear Lynch wasn’t close to worthy of being a top-12 draft pick…It’s pretty hard not to conclude that Carolina is the worst team in the NFL right now, but Arizona sure looks like the second worst to me.

What a performance by Tom Brady. Love to see that emotion too. New England is now 23-2 following a loss under Bill Belichick. Should be a helluva game this week against the Colts. Brady has a 24 game winning streak during the regular season at home…Looking at the schedule in Weeks 14-16, Pittsburgh is clearly the best fantasy defense to own, but after that, there really isn’t another unit worth targeting. It’s been a weird year with team defenses all season long, as none have stood out like in years past.

With the way he looked Monday night and considering the injury troubles with his competition, Keiland Williams could easily become a difference maker in fantasy leagues from here on out…It’s not a stretch to call Michael Vick’s performance Monday night one of the best ever. Considering the opponent (Washington is on pace to allow the second most yards in NFL history) and context (regular season game), it won’t top any lists, but this was memorable nevertheless. In fact, Vick became the first player ever to have 300 passing yards, 50 rushing yards, four passing TDs and two rushing TDs in a game, and he did it in less than three quarters! His decision-making and accuracy have caught up with his natural talent, which is scary. Vick hasn’t committed a single turnover this season, and he’s surrounded by explosive teammates and in a terrific offensive system. His style of play makes him a bigger injury risk, but that’s the only argument against him being a top-10 fantasy player right now. There certainly isn’t another quarterback I’d rather own.

Bet on It

Friday, November 12th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 6-6-1, bringing my season record to 65-61-4. I lost my best bet, so I’m 5-4 there. Onto the Week 10 picks:

Ravens +1 at FALCONS

LIONS +3 at Bills

Jets -3 at BROWNS

PANTHERS +7 at Buccaneers

Bengals +7 at COLTS

TITANS -2 at Dolphins

Vikings -1 at BEARS

Texans +1.5 at JAGUARS

CHIEFS -1 at Broncos

RAMS +6 at 49ers

Seahawks +3 at CARDINALS

COWBOYS (Best Bet) +14.5 at Giants

PATRIOTS +5 at Steelers

EAGLES -3 at Redskins

Comments: I was close to making Indy my best bet, but ultimately, I backed Dallas, as that’s an awful lot of points in a divisional matchup. Maybe the coaching change helps, and with the Cowboys coming off an undressing in primetime while the Giants just destroyed the Seahawks in Seattle, expect some natural regression.

Podcast

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Check it out. Also, I picked the Falcons (-1) for Thursday’s game. I’ll post the rest of my picks Friday.

The Scoop

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Death, taxes, San Diego getting a punt blocked in the first five minutes of a game…Arian Foster is on pace to finish with 2,358 total yards and 20 touchdowns. That’s especially remarkable when you consider he’s also on pace for just 317 carries…Playing on the road without Antonio Gates and his top four wide receivers while dealing with one of the worst offensive lines in football, Philip Rivers still managed a decent 12.8 YPA with four touchdown passes Sunday against the Texans. Peyton Manning has a strong argument as well, but it’s hard not to call Rivers the MVP of the league right now…Ryan Mathews has lost three fumbles this season on 102 touches. He lost that many over 553 carries while at Fresno State. And make no mistake, in between injuries, Mathews has been outplayed by Mike Tolbert…With more than five minutes left and the score 27-23, Norv Turner decided to go for two, which was even crazier than Derek Jeter winning another Gold Glove award.

Speaking of Gold Gloves, while the egregious Jeter issue has been rightfully hammered by the sabermetric community, I haven’t heard one argument about what I view as clearly the biggest oversight this year – Andres Torres not winning. Quite simply, Torres was the best defensive player in all of baseball this season, yet he wasn’t awarded despite voters having three outfield spots to choose from. Only Brett Gardner had a higher UZR than Torres this season, but he played the vast majority in left field, and while Torres was amazing in left field (53.7 UZR/150) and right field (33.4 UZR/150), he played mostly in center field. And realize AT&T Park is one of the trickiest outfields in baseball. I get that he’s hardly a household name in what amounts to a popularity contest, but Torres had 67 extra base hits in just 139 games and was the best position player on the team that won the World Series. Carlos Gonzalez is a below average fielder! That even those who are supposed to “get it” missed the boat here (not one single voter for the Fielding Bible Awards, which features Rob Neyer, Bill James, etc. picked Torres in their top-five OFs, yet Tom Tango’s Fan Poll had him as the No. 2 center fielder, so this isn’t a disconnect regarding advanced stats. People who watched him play concur) makes it far more maddening than the clueless coaches and managers predictably getting another one wrong.

While not quite as crazy as this “Price Is Right” bid, this “Wheel of Fortune” contestant is no joke.

Larry Fitzgerald entered Week 8 with just 331 receiving yards on the year but has averaged 6.5 catches, 89.5 yards and one touchdown over the past two games, and it’s no coincidence that has coincided with Derek Anderson seeing significant action at quarterback. Anderson might be the least accurate QB in the league, but he’s unafraid to take shots downfield and has resurrected Fitzgerald’s fantasy value. He was targeted 10 times last week, and the opportunity to buy Fitzgerald low has likely passed…Can everyone do me a favor and remind me not to draft Chris Wells next season? Thanks…Playing through a badly sprained ankle, Percy Harvin hauled in nine catches for 126 yards Sunday, alleviating concerns he’d be unproductive with Randy Moss out of town. Harvin clearly benefited from Brett Favre having to throw 47 times, but he was highly impressive even hobbled and should be a mainstay in fantasy lineups from here on out (assuming his latest headache problem is minor). Harvin is second in the NFL with 276 yards after the catch (Miles Austin leads with 288 YAC), and he’s done so despite not being in the top-20 in targets.

This buzzer beater is legit.

With DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart out, Mike Goodson has been named Carolina’s starter for Week 10. He has just 38 career rushing attempts (2.6 YPC) and plays for a bad Panthers offense that will be forced to start Jimmy Clausen at QB, but Goodson should approach 20 touches, as he’s plenty useful as a receiver. Tampa Bay has allowed 5.0 YPC this year, which is the second highest mark in the NFL, so the matchup is favorable. Goodson is a worthy flex play in Week 10…During the three games Steve Smith has played this year in which Jimmy Clausen saw significant action, he’s averaged 2.0 catches, 14.0 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. Smith hasn’t scored since Week 2, and with Matt Moore out for the season, Carolina will be relying on Clausen (or possibly Tony Pike) for the foreseeable future. An NFL-high six balls have been intercepted on passes intended for Smith this season. He’s borderline droppable in fantasy leagues.

This story is pretty crazy.

Peyton Hillis totaled 220 yards and scored two touchdowns in Week 10 against a Patriots team that entered having yet to allow a 100-yard rushing game to any back this season. Hillis has scored in seven of eight games this season, and it’s clear the bye week let him fully recover from his thigh injury, as he looked explosive and powerful in the dominant performance. Pro Football Focus ranks him as the second best blocking back in the league as well (Ahmad Bradshaw is No. 1), so there isn’t a weakness in his game. Brandon Lloyd has been fantastic, but Hillis has been the best waiver wire add in fantasy leagues this season…BenJarvus Green-Ellis has the higher ceiling because of his touchdown potential, but Danny Woodhead clearly has a higher floor each week…New England receivers have done Tom Brady no favors this year, dropping an NFL-high 23 passes collectively.

I didn’t know this was even possible.

Although it didn’t succeed, I applaud Tampa Bay’s aggressiveness going for the surprise onside kick in the third quarter. The Bucs touched it about 9.9 yards after the kick, so it nearly worked…Mike Williams is second in the NFL with seven broken tackles and not a single pass intended for him has been picked off…The Buccaneers are on pace to record just 12 sacks this season (the lowest in NFL history is 10)…While people keep mentioning how unfortunate it is that Tampa Bay was out of timeouts and therefore unable to challenge the spot during LeGarrette Blount’s crucial 4th and 1 run late in the fourth quarter from the two yard line, ultimately it was moot, because if the refs had allowed further progress, then the ruling would have become a fumble. The Bucs can’t have it both ways (the forward progress stopping after he reached the first down but right before the Falcons knocked it out of his hands).

I feel bad for the kid, but seriously, what was he thinking?

At the beginning of the year, I kept changing my mind on which Bears receiver to target, but I never once even imagined the correct answer being “none.” How can a Mike Martz offense with Jay Cutler at QB not produce a single weekly fantasy starter at WR or TE? It’s insane…Steve Johnson’s five game scoring streak ended Sunday, but he racked up 11 catches for 145 yards, as he continues to be Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target (his 14 looks tied for the third most in the league in Week 9). Johnson is averaging 8.0 catches and 113.3 receiving yards over the past three games, and he’s scored six touchdowns over the past six contests. Even though Fitzpatrick has taken a step back recently, he’s attempted a whopping 99 passes over the past two games, and that type of high volume should remain a constant thanks to Buffalo’s horrendous defense. Johnson can’t be called a nice complement to Lee Evans any longer, because he’s emerged as the Bills’ No. 1 receiver.

I guess the “updated” version makes it better?

Brandon Marshall was held to just five catches for 30 yards last week, and he still has only one touchdown this season. He’s reached 75 yards receiving in just two of eight games, and his current 11.9 yards per catch mark is outside the top-50 in the league. Marshall is seeing constant double and even triple teams, and while he still has plenty of value, especially in PPR formats, he can no longer be considered a top-10 fantasy wide receiver. The switch from Chad Henne to Chad Pennington might help in the red zone since the latter is more accurate, but on the other hand, the offense could become even less explosive…Joe Flacco has a 14:0 TD:INT ratio over his last seven homes games…The Ravens didn’t punt once during their victory over the Dolphins.

How to get out of jury duty.

Over the last three games, LaDainian Tomlinson has rushed 48 times for just 156 yards – good for 3.3 YPC. Considering all three of those opponents rank in the bottom seven in rush defense, it’s concerning. While Tomlinson was a good story over the first half of the year, still benefits from running behind one of the best lines in the league and remains active as a receiver, no one should be surprised by the decline in performance, as he recently surpassed the 3,000 carry mark for his career. I’d rather own Shonn Greene from here on out…How does Santonio Holmes get caught from behind by a linebacker?…Matthew Stafford’s latest shoulder injury is once again serious, and he appears unlikely to play another snap in 2010. He’s not soft, but at this point it’s safe to worry about his durability. A franchise player simply can’t miss 19 games over a two year stretch. It’s two steps forward and then another back for the Lions. Shaun Hill becomes a decent fantasy option in deep leagues as a result…After he buried a field goal in overtime, the fact it was a game-winner was news to Nick Folk.

Seattle is typically one of the toughest places to play, so it was pretty impressive to see the Giants jump out to a 28-0 lead with more than nine minutes remaining in the second quarter, regardless of Seattle’s injury issues…During their four losses this season, the Seahawks have been outscored 125-27.

This guy is an absolute lunatic.

Austin Collie will be missed, as he’s caught an insane 84.6 percent (44-of-52) of his targets this year, easily leading the league…Pretty crazy that Michael Vick currently leads the NFL in QB rating…The only tight end I’d rather own over Jacob Tamme is Antonio Gates, and even that’s questionable considering his health concerns…What a ridiculous backdoor cover by Indy, thanks to a shaky personal foul call on 4th and 18 when Peyton Manning was going to get sacked either way. A horrifying way to lose my “best bet” of the week…I can’t get enough of this Andy Reid (or should I say Ried) video. Dude is already three bills with a full stache at age 13!

The most field goals ever attempted in a season was 49 back in 1971. Sebastian Janikowski is on pace to attempt 52 this season…Oakland forced its first turnover in the red zone over their last 26 games Sunday…Solomon Wilcots talking about Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles: “Both guys are different but eerily similar.” My head hurts.

So sad to see Joe Morgan leave ESPN’s Sunday night booth. Always keeping an open mind and willing to fully embrace improved statistics and new ways of thinking, he will truly be missed.

I’m beginning to think this Dallas team may not live up to expectations this season…After recording only two catches for 17 yards in Week 9, Miles Austin has failed to surpass three receptions or reach 40 receiving yards in three of the past four games. It’s been a small sample, but Dez Bryant appears to have emerged as Jon Kitna’s favorite target, with Jason Witten commanding plenty of looks as well. Austin shouldn’t be benched in fantasy leagues by any means, although he’s been a boom-or-bust option so far (he’s totaled 571 yards in four games and just 86 yards in the other four contests), but he’s certain to disappoint relative to his preseason ADP. Still, with Dallas fielding one of the worst defenses in the league and a poor rushing attack, the Cowboys are going to be throwing a lot, and Austin’s talent is real (although his seven dropped passes are the most in the NFL this season)…James Jones sure looks like a future star if ever given the opportunity…After Dallas blocked a field goal and a Cowboy touched it (later ruled “illegally kicking”), Al Michaels said: “It doesn’t matter who comes up with the ball.” Umm, yes it did – has he never seen the Leon Lett play? Only the Cowboys could somehow lose 27 yards of field position after blocking a FG.

In my home league, my friend Jeff has a team that consists of Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, Michael Turner, Darren McFadden, Ahmad Bradshaw, Terrell Owens, Brandon Lloyd and Jacob Tamme (he also lost Jermichael Finley and even has Seabass at kicker to boot). He currently has a losing record. Not only should all tie breakers come down to overall points in fantasy football, but I also suggest making the final playoff spot rewarded to the remaining seed with the most points scored, which is fairer than win/loss record and relying on your virtual defense.

Troy Polamalu is used to being on the other end of hits like this…It’s been downright shocking to watch Terrell Owens dominate while approaching age 37, and it makes the recent poll listing him as the most overrated player in the NFL laughable…With about 30 seconds left in the first half, Ben Roethlisberger spiked the ball after a big 24-yard gain instead of using one of his two timeouts (or calling a play at the line of scrimmage). Predictably, the loss of down hurt, as the Steelers ended up having to kick a field goal on fourth down and entered halftime with two timeouts in their pocket. I will never understand this.

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Bet on It

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 6-7, bringing my season record to 59-55-3. I won my best bet, so I’m 5-3 there. Onto the Week 9 picks:

Jets -5 at LIONS

BUCCANEERS +8.5 at Falcons

Dolphins +5 at RAVENS

Patriots -4.5 at BROWNS

CARDINALS +8.5 at Vikings

Bears -3 at BILLS

Chargers -3 at TEXANS

Saints +6.5 at PANTHERS

Giants -7 at SEAHAWKS

Colts +3 at EAGLES (Best Bet)

CHIEFS +2.5 at Raiders

COWBOYS +8.5 at Packers

STEELERS -5 at Bengals

Comments: It feels crazy to see Indy as underdogs, but traveling during a short week is never easy, and Andy Reid is 11-0 coming off byes during his career.

Podcast

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Check it out. Also, here are the results of the midseason draft we are talking about.

The Scoop

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Jamaal Charles totaled 238 yards on just 26 touches Sunday, and he’s now averaging a whopping 6.5 YPC. He’s getting a highly impressive 3.4 YPC after contact, has yet to commit a single penalty this season and is a superior blocker than Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, so there’s a legitimate argument Charles is the best running back in football. Nothing has fundamentally changed with his fantasy prospects recently, as Thomas Jones will continue to frustrate his owners, but Charles is on pace to finish the year with 1,959 total yards on just 272 touches. If he were ever given a full workload, the history books could be rewritten…Buffalo may be 0-7, but this team is no doormat, especially with the vastly improved passing attack. Those who took Kansas City in their survivor pools were extremely fortunate, to say the least. Check out the game’s crazy WP graph…Tamba Hali might be the best defensive player few people know about, as he’s been playing out of his mind this season. His 36 quarterback pressures are the second most in the NFL.

The run blocking has taken a major step back, but what’s up with Jonathan Stewart? He’s looked like a top NFL back over the past two years, and now supposedly fully healthy for the first time ever, he’s just not breaking tackles like in the past. Of course, it’s probably safe to say at this point that offseason surgery has had a lingering effect, and Carolina’s offense has been a huge problem. If DeAngelo Williams is out again in Week 9, I’d still roll with Stewart in fantasy leagues…The Rams are a surprising 4-4 thanks not only to Sam Bradford, but their defense has allowed just two rushing scores while yielding only 6.4 YPA and recording 23 sacks. It’s been one of the most improved units in all of football in 2010.

Really interesting read about the late night wars between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien.

Troy Smith’s final stat line looked strong, but that was quite a vanilla game plan. Of course, San Francisco fans have a low bar to clear when it comes to getting excited about QB play, so might as well see what he can do while Alex Smith is dealing with a bum shoulder (and maybe even after Smith is healed)…Fun fact: Frank Gore has been targeted (59) more than Wes Welker (56) this season…Brandon Lloyd already has more receiving yards this year than he did over the past four seasons combined. Lloyd is on pace to finish with 1,757 receiving yards, which would be the third highest mark in NFL history. Remarkable.

Over the last four games, Calvin Johnson has racked up 24 catches for 387 yards and seven touchdowns. His talent and the high expectations are finally being matched by his production on the field. Johnson’s eight receiving scores are tied for the most among all wide receivers this year, and it was encouraging to see him have a nice rapport with Matthew Stafford, who returned to the lineup in Week 8. Johnson’s shoulder is still bothering him, and he’s an injury risk moving forward, but there isn’t a more talented receiver in football, and he should continue to dominate in the red zone. He must be considered a top-three fantasy WR…Donovan McNabb struggled again Sunday, completing just 56.7 percent of his passes with one touchdown against a vulnerable Detroit secondary, which resulted in him getting benched in favor of Rex Grossman in a six point game with two minutes left. Varying explanations have been given as to why, and none of them make any sense, mainly because the alternative was Grossman. Still, McNabb has posted a 7:8 TD:INT ratio over eight games, and he’s fortunate none of his four fumbles have been lost. He’s also taken 22 sacks and has produced a QB rating below 80.0 in seven of eight contests. McNabb has yet to throw multiple touchdowns in any game this year and put simply, he’s been one of the least effective quarterbacks in 2010…It doesn’t get much dumber than Washington jumping off sides when Detroit was lined up to kick a field goal on 4th and 1 at the Redskins’ 7 yard line in the third quarter Sunday.

This is a ridiculously crazy ending to a CFL game. And while you’re watching, note that Montreal was favored by 4.5 points.

Entering Week 9, the Jets hadn’t allowed a single point in the first quarter this season. That is until a failed fake punt on 4th and 18 from their own 20 yard line led to a Green Bay field goal…It was definitely an impressive performance by the Packers’ defense, especially considering the Jets were coming off their bye, but Santonio Holmes dropped what would have been a sure 40 yard touchdown, which was a killer. It was on a short cross and not a tough catch, but that said, I like buying low on Holmes right now in deep leagues.

One was an absolute gift that should have been intercepted, but Terrell Owens recorded two more touchdowns Sunday, giving him five over the past four games. His 85 targets are the most in the NFL, and there’s little reason not to expect that to continue considering the Bengals’ declining defense and mediocre rushing attack. Owens is defying the odds remaining so productive at age 36, but it’s clear he’s got plenty left in the tank…Davone Bess leads all wide receivers with eight broken tackles this year.

This state house candidate had himself quite a weekend.

While it may not seem like David Garrard is having a good season, over his last three games (not counting the one he left with a concussion midway through the second quarter) he’s posted a 9:1 TD:INT ratio. He’s also completed 79.4 percent of his passes, got 9.5 YPA and also produced two TDs on the ground over that span. After the team’s upcoming bye, Jacksonville gets home games against the Texans and Browns (and they also have a highly favorable playoff schedule), so Garrard is suddenly a factor in fantasy leagues. The Jaguars’ poor defense and inability to run block are both positives for Garrard’s value…Jason Witten was targeted 12 times during Jon Kitna’s first start for the Cowboys on Sunday, and he’s likely to be relied upon heavily moving forward. With Dallas Clark joining Jermichael Finley on IR and Zach Miller and Vernon Davis both banged up, Witten could easily be considered the No. 2 tight end in fantasy leagues right now…Having allowed zero before Sunday, Doug Free gave up two sacks against the Jaguars, leaving Jake Long as the NFL’s only left tackle yet to allow a sack this season…Make no mistake, the Cowboys have one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

At this point, it’s only news when Charlie Sheen doesn’t get drunk, naked and harass some poor girl.

It’s comical the Chargers had yet another punt blocked for a safety less than two minutes into Sunday’s game…Kenny Britt clearly has the talent to be a No. 1 WR for years to come, but the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 8 appears to be significant. The team is hoping it won’t land him on IR, and while he’s worth holding onto if you have the roster space, those in a crunch should probably just cut bait. The subsequent claiming of Randy Moss off waivers suggests the Titans aren’t banking on Britt returning to action anytime soon…Speaking of Moss, he’s on pace to finish with just 626 receiving yards this year. Getting claimed by Tennessee is a pretty good real life situation with the Titans a playoff contender and entering the team’s bye week, but they have attempted just 26.1 passes per game this season, so it’s hardly an ideal landing spot for Moss’ fantasy value. He also deserves a downgrade for berating that catering company, which isn’t cool at all…Seyi Ajirotutu is a deep sleeper for those desperate for wide receiver help in Week 9.

LeGarrette Blount totaled 129 yards and two touchdowns on 24 touches Sunday. He’s averaging 5.2 YPC during his rookie season, exhibiting a nice blend of power and speed that will make it increasingly more difficult to keep him off the field. He’ll continue to lose work to Carnell Williams during passing situations, but Blount simply has to be Tampa Bay’s primary ballcarrier at this point. He looks like a future star…It’s pretty clear Derek Anderson currently gives Arizona its best chance of winning.

Over the last four games, Tom Brady has gotten just 6.6 YPA with four touchdowns, averaging a paltry 211.0 passing yards over that span. The offense has been dramatically different with Randy Moss gone, as defenses have been able to defend a less than 100 percent Wes Welker with ease, and a hobbled (and aged) Deion Branch hasn’t been the answer. With no downfield threat, New England plans to win games like they used to, which has certainly worked in the record column, but it’s bad news for Brady’s fantasy value. He’s still a top-10 option, but he’s no longer in the top-five…With a little more than three minutes left and 1st and goal at the 1 yard line with the Pats up 21-18, Bill Belichick had Brady run back-to-back QB sneaks in which he clearly tried not to score, effectively taking the game down to the two minute warning. It would have been interesting to see if New England would have gone for it had BenJarvus Green-Ellis not scored on third down. It’s crazy no other coach is willing to think outside the box like Belichick. He’s playing chess while the rest are playing checkers…After leading the NFL with 48 sacks last season, the Vikings haven’t recorded one in any of their past three games and are tied for a league-low with six on the year.

“Eastbound & Down” hit a lull during those two Don Johnson episodes, but it totally redeemed itself with the penultimate episode last week, which killed me. The opening with Adam Scott was a home run, and Stevie Janowski is simply one of the best characters ever.

After failing to score a touchdown in Week 6, the Raiders have somehow scored 92 points over the past two games, thanks to Darren McFadden continuing to look like one of the best running backs in football, and Jason Campbell suddenly playing well. Since posting a lower QB rating in Week 6 than JaMarcus Russell ever did, Campbell has gotten 10.9 YPA with a 4:0 TD:INT ratio…The Seahawks have a winning record and are currently alone in first place in the NFC West, but they have been outscored 104-43 on the road this season.

Prop 19 didn’t pass, but I have a sneaking suspicion which way Tim Lincecum voted.

After gaining just seven yards on seven carries before suffering a concussion, Chris Ivory’s momentary fantasy value could soon come to an end. Both Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas could return after the team’s Week 10 bye…Facing a mediocre Saints secondary that was banged up physically in a dome environment in primetime, it was surprising to see Ben Roethlisberger post such a pedestrian line. Expect him to bounce back with a big game this week in Cincinnati.

I still can’t believe the Giants won the World Series. Even as a homer, I never saw it coming. As crazy as that outcome was, the subsequent celebration took it up a notch!

He may not have been totally 100 percent, but Donald Brown was badly outplayed by Mike Hart on Monday night – it’s too bad Hart suffered what looked like a serious ankle injury…It sounds like Austin Collie may actually have a chance of returning to action in Week 9, which would be a remarkably quick recovery…One interesting prop bet my friend who lives in Vegas hammered was Pierre Garcon’s over/under last week, which was 57.5 yards. That seemed incredibly low considering the opponent and how decimated the rest of Indy’s receiving corps was…Making his first career start, Jacob Tamme wasted no time, catching a touchdown in the first quarter of Monday’s win over the Texans. He finished with six catches for 64 yards, and while that came in a favorable matchup, Tamme immediately becomes a viable weekly TE option in fantasy leagues because of Peyton Manning. With a depleted receiving corps, Tamme is going to remain involved in the Colts’ offense moving forward, and there are few better setups in the league…Since throwing for 497 yards and three touchdowns in Week 2, Matt Schaub has gotten just 6.8 YPA with a 6:4 TD:INT ratio over five games. He’s taken a major step back compared to last season…I realize complaints like this have become repetitive, but what was Houston thinking punting down 13 points with six minutes left Monday night? On what planet does that decision give them their best chance of winning? Even if they fail on fourth down, a subsequent field goal by Indy still leaves it a two score game. NFL coaches really need to grow a pair and quit playing for the friendliest loss. It’s an epidemic that needs to stop.

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Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010