Archive for September, 2011

The Scoop

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Vernon Davis in Week 3 was the latest example of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. He’ll be fine moving forward, but his situation limits his upside compared to other tight ends like Jermichael Finley and Rob Gronkowski…Liked the thought process of the play call asking Andy Lee to take a safety at the end of Sunday’s game, but it still left two seconds remaining, resulting in a kick return anyway (although not a punt)…Cedric Benson has gotten 3.8 YPC or fewer in 11 of his past 14 games.

Well that’s a rather bizarre way to end a soccer match.

Cam Newton came crashing back down to earth, but realize the weather conditions were pretty bad Sunday, and the fact he’s such a force rushing inside the 10 gives him a higher floor than most rookie QBs. I’m still a buyer (and this coming from someone who thought he’d be a bust in the NFL)…Deji Karim has been awful. The Rashad Jennings injury looks like a blessing for MJD owners, assuming the latter can stay healthy of course…DeAngelo Williams has produced 3.15 yards-per-touch this season, while Jonathan Stewart has produced 6.38 (including a crazy 61-yard catch Sunday that was called back after a review that was shaky at best). Seriously, how ridiculous were the contracts given out to Williams, Chris Johnson and Frank Gore this summer? I fully expect all three to improve, of course, but if this doesn’t teach organizations not to overpay this position, I guess nothing will…The Jaguars have been in the red zone one time this season.

This guy sounds more like Eddie Vedder than Eddie Vedder does. Pretty crazy.

Although Matthew Stafford entered Week 3 having yet to take a sack, he had taken a bunch of hits, so Detroit’s offensive line remains a concern. He took five sacks Sunday, and the team struggles with run blocking as well…Calvin Johnson has become the only player in NFL history with two touchdowns in each of the first three games of the season…The Vikings have outscored their opponents 54-7 in the first half this year. They are 0-3.

What a brutal loss for Kenny Britt owners. He looked sure to return second round value (at least), so even though he didn’t cost as much during drafts, it’s a massive blow. Nate Washington looks like the primary beneficiary and must be owned in all fantasy leagues as a result…Speaking of fantasy owners getting screwed, how about Knowshon Moreno being active yet seeing zero snaps? That’s not ideal…The Titans have yet to return a single kickoff this season…The loss of Britt is huge, but I must say, I in no way saw Matt Hasselbeck at this age, changing offensive schemes and moving to a tougher division posting an 8.3 YPA mark with a 69.6 completion percentage over his first three games.

Customer pulls shotgun at Taco Bell over lack of hot sauce.

I’m beginning to think Reggie Bush might not be cut out to be a feature back in the NFL…Joe Haden has turned into a shutdown corner who often shadows opposing teams’ No. 1 WR, so don’t panic Brandon Marshall owners…Montario Hardesty looked plenty competent, so while Peyton Hillis can’t be blamed for missing a game with a severe case of strep throat, the long-term consequences could result in more of a committee.

Delonte West is the best.

If you follow the narrative surrounding Eli Manning this season, it would seem he’s been a disaster, when the truth is he’s been the opposite. Manning has produced seven touchdowns with just two turnovers over the first three games, posting a ridiculously good 8.8 YPA mark with a depleted WR corps…Michael Vick already has seven fumbles this season…Jason Pierre-Paul is a beast who looks like a man playing amongst boys. What a draft pick by the Giants…Can someone explain why New York went for two up 20-16 with 8:07 left in the fourth quarter? Math is hard.

Bruce Bochy apparently decided to give an interview while on the toilet, which could also be a metaphor for the Giants’ season.

The Saints have scored 34.6 points per game this season, facing two of the top four defenses in points against last year (Green Bay and Chicago) as well as a Houston defense that had allowed just 20 points over the first two games of this season. It wouldn’t be crazy to rank the Saints atop any power ratings board right now…Houston dominated for stretches in Week 3, but the red zone killed them. Can’t win settling for so many field goals…Once again, can someone explain why New Orleans went for two up 30-26 with 7:10 left in the fourth quarter? The teams totaled 73 points in a game that Vegas pegged as the highest scoring of the week, so you’re telling me Sean Payton was more concerned about the Texans kicking two field goals without his own team scoring than a Houston touchdown? Huh? The attempt was successful, but it predictably had no benefit later on, and if they had been unsuccessful, they would have been down three points instead of two after Houston scored a TD with 4:13 left.

Man selling his own thumb to save haunted train museum.

I’m never one to look ahead in survivor pools, but it became apparent that was a mistake last week after having used San Diego and Pittsburgh during the first two weeks, as they were the obvious choices in Week 3. I went with New England, fully aware there was a good chance I’d lose, so I have no defense when I admit I gloated when they were up 21-0. Serves me right. What a miserable defense. And while I want to hate on Tom Brady for throwing as many picks Sunday as he did all of last season, clearly a couple weren’t his fault, and Chad Ochocinco is dead to me after his sure touchdown catch was dropped with 8:12 left. The Pats ended up scoring on the drive, but obviously the time difference mattered. Put a fork in Ochocinco, he’s done…The Bills are the first team in NFL history to win back-to-back games in which they have trailed by 18 (or more) points…Does anyone know what school Ryan Fitzpatrick went to in college?…Brady was 13 yards short of becoming the first QB ever to throw for 400 yards in three straight games…BenJarvus Green-Ellis played just 28-of-75 snaps, but Fred Jackson is a top-10 fantasy RB…In PPR formats, Wes Welker might be the No. 1 overall fantasy player…Why did New England tackle Fred Jackson at the one-yard line? I don’t want to go into a tirade after that decision already raised my blood pressure immensely and cost at least two years of my life, but it’s safe to say those who made that tackle didn’t exactly impress on the Wonderlic. Honestly, it was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen in sports.

These people are absolutely insane.

Torrey Smith’s first three catches in the NFL all went for touchdowns during the first quarter of Baltimore’s win Sunday. A true deep threat, the rookie finally gives Joe Flacco a downfield weapon he’s never had throughout his career. With Flacco possessing one of the strongest arms in football, it should be a good fit. Smith will likely be inconsistent as a rookie, and his role may be reduced when Lee Evans returns from his ankle injury, but his future looks bright…Ed Dickson continues to quietly be more and more involved in the Ravens’ offense, so he’s a flier to add if you need help at tight end…The Rams were my pick to win the NFC West this season, and while I acknowledged their schedule early on was tough, Sunday’s game has become something of a must-win with upcoming trips to Green Bay and Dallas next on the docket after a bye. And even then, they get the Saints at home and two more road games following (with a trip to Pittsburgh in Week 16 as well). Seven wins may once again win the NFC West.

Hit man falls in love with victim, so he faked her death with ketchup.

The Raiders became the first team since 1995 to win a game with zero third-down conversions Sunday. No team bucks trends quite like Oakland…I was a Shonn Greene backer before the season, but I admit, he’s a bum…Even as a “hater,” I have to give LaDainian Tomlinson credit for what he’s done so late in his career….Mark Sanchez seems like a fantasy afterthought, but he’s gotten 8.0 YPA and produced seven touchdowns over three games. If the Jets’ running game continues to struggle, the third-year QB becomes a fantasy option.

Check out Virginia’s Marquis Weeks’ explanation for his 100-yard kickoff return.

Ryan Mathews totaled 149 yards and two touchdowns on 25 touches during the Chargers’ win Sunday. Mike Tolbert, meanwhile, has gotten just 2.6 YPC on the year and has seen his carries dwindle by the week. Tolbert isn’t going to completely disappear from the offense, but it’s important to note both of Mathews’ scores came from inside the five, as he’s now being trusted in the red zone and in pass protection. He’s missed time thanks to injuries in each of the past four seasons dating back to college, so while all running backs carry some health risk, Mathews might present more than usual. However, he’s clearly shown elite skills and when you combine that with possibly the best situation in the NFL in San Diego, you get top-three upside…Antonio Gates’ foot injury just won’t go away, and it appears it’s once again going to be a season-long problem. If he somehow returns in a week or two and puts up a decent game, try to trade him. This is a problem that’s not going away any time soon…So Todd Haley running his offensive coordinator out of town wasn’t a good thing?…Kansas City had zero first downs in the first half (33 yards total).

Man dies from spontaneous combustion.

I’m done trying to predict Green Bay’s backfield for the time being, although James Starks makes for a fine fantasy play in Week 4 if Ryan Grant (kidney) is out…Matt Forte is on pace to finish the year with 117 receptions and 1,531 receiving yards. And 635 rushing yards…Interesting how the Bears decided to unveil possibly the cleverest punt return in NFL history when they were down two scores late. Incidentally, the phantom holding call cost me a backdoor cover.

I essentially wrote Sidney Rice off last week, which appears to be a mistake. He had eight catches for 109 yards Sunday, and while it was in a plus matchup, he’s going to be a target monster in a Seattle offense with no other viable options. Rice’s shoulder injury could be a season long problem, but he looked fine during his debut and isn’t expected to be listed on the injury report this week…So I guess it’s Alfonso Smith and not Chester Taylor backing up Chris Wells. Get well soon Beanie!

Fleeing driver calls police to tell them to stop chasing him.

LeGarrette Blount has 18 carries for 40 yards (2.2 YPC) during the first half of games this season and 24 carries for 127 yards (5.3 YPC) after halftime. He’s a volume guy…Matt Ryan has 27 touchdowns with 25 turnovers and a 6.3 YPA over 20 outdoor games during his career…After posting a 15:1 TD:INT ratio over the second half of last season, Josh Freeman has already been picked off four times this year.

Entering the final day of the season leading my home fantasy baseball league, I watched in horror as my opponent gained two points in WHIP during the last inning of Gio Gonzalez’s outing, pushing him past me into first place. It doesn’t get any more frustrating than that, considering it was literally the last game being played for the year, and we have an 1,800-innings cap (tough to move the needle in WHIP at that stage, let alone gain two full points in one inning of action). FML.

In the summer, Mike Wallace amusingly stated his goal was to reach 2,000 receiving yards this season, but the joke may ultimately be on us, as he’s currently on pace to surpass that mark. In fact, dating back to last year, he’s broken the century mark in six consecutive games. One of the league’s premier deep threats, Wallace has also racked up 21 catches so far this year after getting just 60 all of last season, as he’s been targeted heavily. While Pittsburgh’s offensive line is a problem, Wallace looks unstoppable, and it would be hard not to treat him as a top-five fantasy wide receiver…Kerry Collins has completed just 49.0 percent of his passes and gotten an anemic 4.9 YPA with the Colts this season, and his job as starter looks short-lived, as Curtis Painter was an immediate upgrade after replacing him Sunday night. Collins is questionable to play Monday night after dealing with a concussion, but there’s no questioning his performance this year, which has been a disaster. It’s arguable no team in sports would be as affected by losing a player as the Colts have been with Peyton Manning.

Angry 91-year-old throws bucket of urine at meddlesome teens.

Watching four botched snaps out of shotgun from Dallas was comical Monday night. Seriously, they were at home. How does that happen?…What a play on 4th-and-21. Before that though, Rex Grossman clearly fumbled but was ruled down. The ref should always err on the side that’s later reviewable in close cases like that…Washington called a timeout with 2:03 left in the fourth quarter, and while normally it’s a good idea to take a T.O. before the two minute warning, in this case, it gave Dallas the option of passing (although for some reason they didn’t)…Dallas became the first team in NFL history to play in nine consecutive games decided by three points or fewer.

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Bet On It

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 6-9-1, tying my best bet (thanks to a reality star coming up a yard short). I’m 13-17-2 after two weeks, so not the best start. Onto the Week 3 picks:

Jaguars +3.5 at PANTHERS

BRONCOS +7 at Titans

Texans +4 at SAINTS

Lions -3.5 at VIKINGS

Giants +5* at EAGLES

Patriots -9 at BILLS

DOLPHINS +2 at Browns

49ers +2.5 at BENGALS (Best Bet)

Jets -3.5 at RAIDERS

Ravens -4 at RAMS

CHIEFS +15 at Chargers

Falcons +1 at BUCCANEERS

Packers -3.5 at BEARS

Cardinals -3.5 at SEAHAWKS

Steelers -11 at COLTS

Redskins +4.5* at COWBOYS

Comments: * denotes the line we used when the RW Staff Picks column was due earlier this week…It feels weird giving 3.5 points with a team that’s 2-16 over their last 18 games, but such is the case with the Panthers…I actually expect the Raiders to beat the Jets outright this week…The Seahawks look like a true doormat, but I can’t see Arizona laying more than a field goal having to play in a tough Seattle environment…After being just three-point dogs (which turned out to be spot on) last week against the Cowboys, the 49ers are getting less than three in Cincinnati? Clearly, Vegas respects San Francisco more than I do.

The Scoop

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

What an entertaining Raiders/Bills game, with a whopping five lead changes in the fourth quarter alone. The fact it was clear someone caught the game-ending Hail Mary (just not whom) made it even crazier…I’m a Ryan Fitzpatrick believer, and it’s hard to argue with his 7:1 TD:INT ratio and 109.6 QB rating while taking just one sack, but the accompanying 6.6 YPA at least needs to be noted. Having said that, another nice game very well could be in store in another possible shootout against the Pats in Week 3. In fantasy sports, volume often matters just as much as efficiency anyway…Darren McFadden remains a very real injury risk, and Michael Bush replacing him at the goal-line at times hurts, but it’s hard not treating him as a top-three fantasy asset right now. He’s the favorite to lead the NFL in yards from scrimmage on a per game basis…C.J. Spiller certainly looks better this year compared to last, but this is Fred Jackson’s backfield for the foreseeable future. He currently leads the NFL with 229 rushing yards…Denarius Moore is the real deal. At least I hope so, since I just blew my FAAB load on him in a dynasty league in which he was mystifyingly dropped last week…I’ve decided the real contrarian thing to do is pick the west coast teams travelling to play the early game on the East Coast, at least against the spread, because since everyone is in on this theory, it’s clearly priced into the line.

I used to be pretty anti-hunting, but this commercial has me seriously reevaluating my views.

If Sunday’s game was any indication, the Lions are suddenly legitimate threats in the NFC, and Kansas City is a true league doormat…My condolences Jamaal Charles owners. What a devastating loss. And on a non-contact play too. I know the mascot causing the injury would be a better narrative, but I’m almost positive he tore his ACL right before going down there. Dexter McCluster obviously needs to be added in all leagues as a result, although expectations should be tempered since his touches will be limited…I’ve always been a Nate Burleson fan, but for some reason, he slipped through the cracks during my drafts this year. Looks like I’m going to regret it…Matthew Stafford owners certainly can’t complain, but realize his 599 passing yards and seven touchdowns have come essentially over just six quarters this season, so his year could easily be even bigger. He’s also yet to be sacked…I can’t believe how many times I’ve heard or read how the Chiefs lost their best defensive player in Eric Berry. He got a 3.8 rating from Pro Football Focus last year, ranking 20th among safeties. Teammate Tamba Hali got a 51.5 rating – the highest of any defender in the NFL. Berry is good, but the Chiefs still have their best defensive player.

Man accused of stealing Dolphins jersey shows up to court wearing Dolphins jersey.

Make no mistake, despite the poor showing in Week 1 against the defending Super Bowl champs, this New Orleans defense is legit. They get Will Smith back from suspension in Week 3 as well…The Bears’ receiving corps is as big of a mess as ever, but Matt Forte racking up 10 catches for 117 yards was pretty eye-opening…I actually like the new rule that every score is subject to booth review, but not sure how seriously we can take it after Darren Sproles’ TD was confirmed. He without question stepped out of bounds.

This video of two alligators fighting is pretty intense. I must admit, I personally probably would have stayed a few club lengths farther away while filming.

I’m beginning to think the Colts might not be as good without Peyton Manning…Remember all that talk about how the Browns wanted to limit Peyton Hillis’ workload this season? His 54 touches currently lead the NFL…I’m not one to (at least openly) root for failure, and the situation certainly isn’t easy, but Jim Caldwell is finally being exposed as one of the worst coaches in the league. What’s the Colts’ O/U right now? Three wins? Two?

If only this guy was a bit more descriptive of his car accident.

Mike Williams (one catch for -4 yards) owners probably don’t want to hear it, but he had a TD catch taken away Sunday thanks to an illegal shift penalty that didn’t affect the play at all. He’ll remain a red-zone beast, so don’t sell low…Speaking of beasts, LeGarrette Blount should probably have more than 18 carries on the season so far…How does Percy Harvin play just 30-of-68 offensive snaps? I’ve always been a fan, and he still managed seven catches for 76 receiving yards, but in this passing attack with that usage, I’m starting to get concerned.

This footage from the recent Reno air race crash is pretty terrifying.

I’d argue Cam Newton is the toughest player to rank in fantasy football right now. The three picks were obviously black marks, but Charles Woodson made really good plays on two of them. And while Newton has played two secondaries that have been torched during each of their games this season, and it’s likely he struggles some the more game tape defensive coordinators can study, it’s hard to argue against his 854 passing yards to open his career. The fact that’s combined with 71 rushing yards and two scores suddenly makes him a QB1 for fantasy purposes. I thought he might struggle to reach a 50 percent completion percentage in his rookie year, but he currently sits at 62.7, with an even more impressive 10.3 YPA mark. Andy Behrens recently offered me Newton for Frank Gore straight up in Yahoo Friends & Family, and I wasn’t even THAT insulted (especially compared to other offers I’ve received in that league this week). Where do you guys have Newton ranked among fantasy QBs moving forward?…Jonathan Stewart has more receiving yards this season than he did while playing 14 games all of last year…John Kuhn is apparently going to cap his upside for the time being, but it’s not even close how much James Starks has outplayed Ryan Grant so far…Last week Aaron Rodgers finished the first quarter 14-of-15 with 188 yards and three touchdowns. In Week 2, the team ran three offensive plays total.

It’s unclear what this guy’s feelings are regarding Jerry Jones.

It was no surprise to see Pittsburgh right the ship against possibly the league’s worst team Sunday, but they did so in dominant fashion that made the 14.5-point spread look tiny in comparison. There was never even a threat of Seattle scoring a touchdown…In the long run, maybe it’s Pete Carroll having the last laugh trading for Tarvaris Jackson and not taking a QB last draft. Despite playing in the NFC West, the Seahawks look like the current favorites for Andrew Luck…It’s too bad about Sidney Rice’s injury, as it looks like he’s going to have little fantasy impact this season.

Smoking babies in Indonesia has become an epidemic.

With 6:58 left in the 4th quarter, the Ravens inexplicably kicked a field goal on 4th-and-goal down 23-10, keeping their deficit at two scores. Huh? I’m a huge John Harbaugh fan, but this was pretty indefensible. The next time they touched the ball was with 20 seconds left in the game. By the way, my wife disagrees, but I think Harbaugh looks like coach Taylor…Chris Johnson is more buy-low than someone to panic about…No reason not to treat Kenny Britt as a top-10 fantasy wide receiver moving forward (update: he’s again dealing with a hamstring injury).

It’s funny because it’s juvenile.

It’s funny because they’re Amish.

Tim Hightower got 96 rushing yards with 4.8 YPC Sunday, but he was noticeably absent down the stretch. He has 203 total yards and a touchdown over two games, so he’s lived up to expectations, but Roy Helu could become a hindrance sooner rather than later…Rex Grossman threw a couple bad picks, but he’s clearly on the fantasy radar now. Over five starts in Washington under Mike Shanahan, he’s averaged 287.2 passing yards with 11 touchdowns…Fred Davis should be used as a TE1 moving forward. He’s clearly a superior option to Chris Cooley…Kevin Kolb has gotten 9.8 YPA so far in Arizona, and while his 110.3 QB rating would normally stand out, it ranks just fifth in the NFL during a year in which the first two weeks of the season rate as the two highest for passing yards in NFL history, respectively.

Here’s an Anti-Coning McDonalds Manager.

Luke McCown completed 31.6 percent of his passes for 3.1 YPA with a 0:4 TD:INT ratio, good for a 1.8 QB rating Sunday. That’s not ideal…Maybe Plaxico Burress is going to struggle after all. He might as well have been on a milk carton Sunday, despite the coaching staff’s insistence he was constantly double-teamed…Maurice Jones-Drew has made the best out of a pretty dire situation so far…If you can trade Shonn Greene at 60 cents on the dollar, I’m all for it. I’d certainly rather own Ryan Mathews or probably even Ben Tate moving forward.

That’s real normal.

SpongeBob SquarePants detained by LAPD.

If Tony Romo’s performance Sunday didn’t prove he’s not soft or incapable of performing in clutch situations, not sure what other than a Super Bowl victory will. And even the latter coming to fruition might not convince some, as he appears to have quite a bit of haters, which is odd since he seems like a nice enough fellow. Seriously, I’ve bruised my ribs before playing intramural basketball in college, and I couldn’t take my shirt off without help, let alone return to an NFL game. Now some who know me may point to me having something of a less than strong pain tolerance, and while I didn’t have the benefit of cortisone, I also didn’t have a punctured lung as well, which no doubt just by the sound of it would have required a month stay in the hospital. Romo is the man…It’s frustrating Felix Jones is already hurt and not performing all that well, but it’s worth noting he’s faced a Jets and 49ers defense on the road (and on grass) who have allowed 3.3 YPC and (an NFL-low) 2.5 YPC through two games this season…As someone who parlayed the Cowboys -3 with the Mayweather/Ortiz fight going under 11.5 rounds (+150), let me say watching Jesse Holley getting tackled at the 1-yard line in overtime was an event in which I may never recover…Tough break for Miles Austin owners, although as a big Dez Bryant backer, admittedly it’s crocodile tears…Some very interesting coaching decisions by Jim Harbaugh, who decided not to take points off the board after David Akers made a 55-yard field goal while Dallas committed a 15-yard penalty. I can understand the sentiment with the 49ers’ struggles in the red zone and the game situation, but even more interesting was his decision not to try an onside kick from the 50. The risk/reward there kind of made it a no-brainer. Although really, Harbaugh’s biggest mistake was not going for it on 4th-and-1 from the 38 before the FG attempt.

Speaking of Mayweather/Ortiz, while I obviously would prefer more than four rounds of entertainment for a $69.95 bill, that ending was without question more exciting than a boring 12-round decision, and while Ortiz wasn’t completely dominated, it was clear he was totally outclassed and the outcome was inevitable either way. His intentional head butt was one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and as for the controversial knockout (I fully blame referee Joe Cortez. Why was he looking at the clock starters and not the boxers? Ridiculous), if any boxer can’t complain, it’s Ortiz. I understand why everyone hates Mayweather, but he’s easily one of my favorite athletes. His interview with Larry Merchant afterward was absolute gold. I especially liked Dana White’s take on it. Let me repeat, if Mayweather/Pacquiao never happens, someone will be murked.

Andy Dalton (who better do my name proud) has somehow completed 66.1 percent of his passes with 7.4 YPA and a 3:0 TD:INT ratio over his first six quarters in the NFL after a preseason in which he looked completely incompetent…I’m normally all about youth over veterans in football, especially when it comes to the running back position, but I honestly might prefer Willis McGahee over “Noshow” Moreno over the rest of the year…He’ll lose some value once Brandon Lloyd returns, but with Eddie Royal (one of my worst fantasy calls ever back in 2009) out, Eric Decker needs to be one of the top waiver priorities in Week 3. He could make a major impact from here on out…I’m an idiot and didn’t end up with A.J. Green on many of my fantasy teams this year, but at least I have solace that I bet my friend Adam $100 that he’d have a better career than Julio Jones (I’m obviously kidding that it’s a done deal after two weeks, but this is the same guy I recently bet Tiger Woods wouldn’t surpass Jack Nicklaus in majors, which clearly reveals his incompetence).

This team was down 29-0 before ever touching the football.

Mike Tolbert is obviously a huge part of the Chargers’ offense and will continue to rack up the catches. But he’s gotten 2.1 YPC this year, including a couple of questionable runs in short-yardage situations in which he hasn’t hit the hole hard (he’s also fumbled three times over the past three games, dating back to last year). There’s little doubt Tolbert is the better blocker than Ryan Mathews, which is extremely important considering Philip Rivers is one of the five most important players in the NFL, but there’s as equally no doubt Mathews is the superior rusher and receiver with the ball in his hands…New England is known for keying on stopping opposing teams’ best player, which speaks volumes about Antonio Gates. He’ll be better moving forward, whereas Vincent Jackson will rarely benefit from single coverage like that also. Still, VJax is going to be a monster this year barring health – Week 1 was a fluke…Horrible injury news for Aaron Hernandez owners. Obviously Rob Gronkowski’s value gets a boost as a result. Both were top-five options beforehand, so it’s not a stretch to call Gronkowski the No. 1 fantasy tight end until Hernandez returns…Words can’t describe how good Tom Brady has been. He’s gone from being known as a great player who won Super Bowls to one who’s team hasn’t won a playoff game since 2007, but he’s easily been the best player in the NFL over the past two-plus years.

These TV stills are pretty funny.

I expected Reggie Bush to remain a productive fantasy player until he got hurt, so I for one found it surprising Daniel Thomas replaced him Sunday due to performance. The rookie had been criticized heavily throughout the preseason for running without authority, but he’s suddenly firmly on the fantasy radar…It’s not entirely clear if Houston is an extremely legitimate team because they have faced the Colts and Dolphins – the former now looks like a true doormat, whereas the latter showed some fight against the Patriots in Week 1…Ranking the Houston backfield from here on out is a guess, but I’d personally treat Ben Tate as a top-20 fantasy asset right now (and he’s a top-three fantasy start any week Arian Foster is inactive)…If I hear how Foster “reaggravated” his hamstring injury one more time I’ll go crazy. He either aggravated or re-injured it. Reaggravated is redundant and not a word…Miami is now 1-10 over its past 11 home games.

These people are out of their minds.

Jon “Bones” Jones is my favorite MMA fighter, but I have no clue why he’s jumped from a -200 to -700 favorite over Rampage Jackson this weekend.

It didn’t feel great watching Jeremy Maclin go absolutely off Sunday night having benched him in my home league, but it’s obviously good news for his fantasy owners that he clearly appears to be back to 100 percent. Last year’s 10/70 TD/reception ratio doesn’t seem repeatable, but Maclin has a high pedigree, is still just 23 years old and is just now entering his third year in the league. DeSean Jackson isn’t a high volume guy and injury prone, whereas Maclin is clearly the team’s No. 1 option in the red zone. If Michael Vick can stay healthy, a huge season could be in store for Maclin in such a high-powered offense. He was targeted 15 times Sunday…Tough break for Vick owners, especially since he got hurt in the pocket (and by his own teammate no less). The team seemingly fell apart after his departure, but it’s not like Mike Kafka played poorly (77.8%, 8.0 YPA). Good thing I have Vince Young stashed in a couple of leagues…Pretty awesome TD catch by Tony Gonzalez. Atlanta sure did set a blue print on how to attack this Eagles defense.

Real life “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

I somehow lucked into ridiculously good seats for a “TV On The Radio” concert Tuesday night. Couldn’t be more pumped.

I was rooting hard for the Giants on Monday night having them on the back end of a teaser, but I fully admit the Rams mostly outplayed them and the score was highly misleading. Of course, red-zone efficiency is a skill, and turnovers are always the great equalizer, but still, St. Louis dominated a lot of facets of that game, especially during the first half…The difference between the Giants’ front four and back seven on defense is beyond drastic. That secondary looks brutal. Especially once Osi Umenyiora returns, it’s possible the D-line can compensate…If you’re going to tear your ACL, at least Domenik Hixon did so in style…Talk about adding injury to insult, not only did Mario Manningham tripping cost him a sure 53-yard touchdown, but he got himself concussed as well…Good to see the NFL retroactively reward Hakeem Nicks a 23-yard catch. I had Nicks in a close battle down to the end, so I was going nuts when the refs ruled it incomplete at the time, as it was a clear (and nice one-handed) catch, and the Giants had no incentive to challenge because there was pass interference on the play…It’s safe to say it wasn’t Steve Spagnuolo’s best coaching night. Not only did he inexplicably punt down 12 points with 1:34 left with no timeouts (meaning all this affected was where on the field the Giants would kneel), but even as someone who generally thinks teams go for two too early in games, I can’t figure out why the Rams kicked an extra point down 28-15 with 1:18 left in the third quarter. A two-point conversion there brings them to within two scores opposed to three, and even if it fails, there’s not a huge difference being down 13 compared to 12 at that time (it’s still two scores even if the Giants kick a FG)…Two Giants clearly faking injuries at the same time was high comedy (although I would have been livid if I were a Rams fan).

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Bet On It

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 7-8-1, winning my best bet in the process. Onto the Week 2 picks:

SEAHAWKS +14.5 at Steelers

Ravens -5.5 at TITANS

Jaguars +9.5 at JETS

Cardinals +3.5 at REDSKINS

RAIDERS +3.5 at Bills

Buccaneers +3 at VIKINGS

BEARS +7 at Saints

Packers -10.5 at PANTHERS

Browns -1.5 at COLTS

CHIEFS +9 at Lions

COWBOYS (Best Bet) -3 at 49ers

Bengals +3.5 at BRONCOS

Texans -3 at DOLPHINS

CHARGERS +7 at Patriots

Eagles -2 at FALCONS

Rams +6 at GIANTS

Comments: I rarely pick a road favorite for best bet, and maybe I’m being a sucker here, but that line in San Francisco seems awfully low…The Packers are obviously legit, but that’s a monstrous number to lay on the road…I get the Colts are doormats without Peyton Manning, but I’m still surprised to see Cleveland laying points in Indy…The Chiefs/Lions game is a perfect buy low, sell high opportunity…I struggled most with CHI/NO and STL/NYG.

The Scoop

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say there won’t be a better game all season than the first one, as the Saints and Packers put on quite a show…Aaron Rodgers finished the first quarter 14-of-15 with 188 yards and three touchdowns against a New Orleans secondary that allowed an NFL-low 13 TD passes last season. That Packers offense looks scary good, especially with Jermichael Finley back, and Randall Cobb looks like a player too…Ryan Grant owners won’t want to hear it, but James Starks looks much better…New Orleans had the lowest YPC (-0.3) versus short-yardage defense in the NFL last year, and it looks like they’ll continue to struggle in that area if game one is any indication. Almost always I’m all for going for it on fourth-and-goal, especially at the one-yard line, but it’s worth noting there’s now slightly less incentive to do so with the new kickoff rules…Coach Mike McCarthy seriously needs to learn how to put away teams…I’m a Chris Collinsworth fan, but it would be nice if he didn’t preface every other sentence with “I tell ya.”

Man wearing gumby costume tries to rob a 7-Eleven, ends up losing 27 cents.

Drunken elk rescued from apple tree.

As someone who bet on the Rams to win the NFC West this year, it wasn’t the greatest start to see them get boat raced at home while also losing their quarterback, running back, WR1, right tackle and both starting cornerbacks in Week 1. As a 49ers fan, I guess it’s good news, but this isn’t baseball, where anything can happen in the playoffs. Best case scenario has S.F. getting blown out in the Wild Card round. I’d much prefer them go 0-16 and win the “Suck for Luck” lottery (make no mistake, he’s the best NFL prospect in more than a decade)…Michael Vick kneeling twice at the end of Sunday’s game taking his rushing yards down from 100 to 98 is the latest example of just how stupid fantasy scoring systems that reward “bonuses” for selective end points are…I still like St. Louis’ defense this year and wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Long finished top-three among sack leaders…Only health can prevent LeSean McCoy from finishing as a top-five fantasy asset…Carnell Williams is actually older than Steven Jackson, but his career mileage is far lower, and if the former misses time, which looks likely, the latter will be worth using until he breaks down.

The best exit from a reality show of all-time.

The “Entourage” finale predictably sucked (Sophia went from having to be convinced to have a drink with Vince to marrying him in less than five minutes), but Larry David just finished a masterpiece. “Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” eighth season was nothing short of brilliant.

I like how Matt Cassel got 3.3 YPA and Jamaal Charles got 5.6 YPC during the Chiefs’ ugly loss. At least Thomas Jones may finally be put out to pasture…Ryan Fitzpatrick has now thrown 18 touchdowns over his past seven road games…It’s Scott Chandler’s world, the rest of us are just passing through…Stevie Johnson is going to dominate targets this season – last year’s breakout shouldn’t be treated as a fluke. A similar if not better year looks to be in store in 2011…Dwayne Bowe continues to be the biggest boom-or-bust fantasy player.

This altercation caught on video by an unsuspecting bystander is fascinating. Still not quite sure why she didn’t just pull over. Maybe she wanted to see the man with the bat do some work.

Man in crotchless spandex outfit sets fire, tries to cook his own “weenie” in city park.

Michael Turner somehow managed 10.0 YPC and had more receiving yards (40) than any game in his career yet left fantasy owners a bit disappointed thanks to the game situation. And he was caught from behind on his 53-yard run, highlighting his decreasing explosiveness. Still, it was obviously an encouraging performance on an efficiency basis…Matt Ryan averaged 1.28 sacks per game over the first three years of his career but was brought down five times Sunday (that included 43 yards lost as well as a fumble that was returned for a TD). The 66.0 completion percentage doesn’t mean much when it’s accompanied with 6.8 YPA. Now down both defensive tackles due to injuries, Ryan really needs to step it up…The safe bet is that once again no Bears’ wide receivers are worth using in fantasy leagues this season.

Denny’s never claimed to be healthy, but they are now taking it next level.

That might be because fairs keep raising the bar, including the newest incarnation – deep fried bubble gum.

Matthew Stafford had a fantastic Week 1, but his stats look even better when you consider they were almost entirely compiled over three quarters. Watching him limp off (just cramps) was a good reminder just how injury prone he is, but only health can prevent him from being a top-five fantasy QB this year…Jahvid Best’s low YPC is something of a concern since he’s now seemingly fully healthy, but his usage was pretty encouraging. He’s constantly a threat to break a long play, and few RBs are utilized as much as a receiver…I’m not panicking about LeGarrette Blount, but it’s clear his usage will be based on game situations, which doesn’t exactly bode well considering Tampa Bay’s schedule projects to be much tougher than last season. He’s completely ignored on passing downs…Andre Johnson is definitely safer, but Calvin Johnson’s TD potential makes him the WR with by far the most upside…My favorite penalty of Week 1 occurred during this game, which was a 15-yarder against Detroit for “disconcerning signals”… Apparently Chris Myers imbibed some bourbon on the rocks while announcing this game.

Possibly the greatest announcing I’ve ever heard. Be sure to stay to the very end.

This orangutan is having a hard time kicking her cigarette habit.

While Maurice Jones-Drew owners can’t love seeing Deji Karim getting 14 carries, that’s certainly less of a concern with MJD getting 24 himself. No back should ever be expected to see more than that, especially one coming off knee surgery. However, of some concern is Karim’s clear advantage on passing downs. It’s definitely something Jones-Drew owners should be monitoring moving forward…Obviously Chris Johnson is more buy-low than someone to worry about…Huge Kenny Britt fan and have him in multiple leagues but had him on my bench in Yahoo Friends & Family. One of the two or three best deep threats in the NFL, his 80 yard TD Sunday was far more run after catch than a big play downfield, but it’s scored the same either way. He’s easily the most talented WR Matt Hasselbeck has ever had as a teammate. But realize that performance came against a Jacksonville secondary that allowed an NFL-high 8.3 YPA last season.

I’m just going to go ahead and call this accused murderer guilty.

I must say, the new Jay-Z and Kanye West album is pretty sick.

It’s not often those who pick a team in survivor can complain about how the opponent losing their starting quarterback was a bad break but so was the case Sunday with the Browns. However, Bruce Gradkowski was terrible other than his 41-yard touchdown to A.J. Green that resulted from a quick snap when Cleveland was still in a huddle (although in fairness, Browns backers could counter the rookie Andy Dalton wouldn’t have successfully pulled this off)…It wouldn’t shock if Peyton Hillis led the Browns in receptions this season…I’m a Cedric Benson hater, so ignore me if you want, but I’d try to shop him this week after that opening performance.

Vacuum cleaner vs. fire.

As if getting arrested shirtless while wielding a samurai sword after abandoning your car on an interstate isn’t enough, claiming you are “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” definitely puts you over the top. Bravo sir.

No one should have been surprised by the Ravens’ win Sunday, but the score and the seven turnovers committed by Pittsburgh were unexpected, to say the least. Don’t worry about Ben Roethlisberger – he’ll be fine. But there’s a legitimate chance Joe Flacco makes “the leap” this season…Over the last 51 games, the Steelers have allowed a player to rush for 100 yards just twice – and both were by Ray Rice. After totaling 149 yards with two touchdowns against the Steelers in Week 1, Rice owners have to be quite happy. I’m not saying he’ll be the No. 1 fantasy player this year, but I will say a fair bet is asking someone to pick one other versus him. I’m all ears if anyone wants to take me up on that proposition.

Lab chimps see daylight for very first time.

Is this a real life ManBearPig?!

I’ve said for years the Colts would be a 3-13 type team without Peyton Manning, yet I cowardly didn’t pick Houston in my survivor pool this week (more on this later), which made it frustrating to watch the Texans enter halftime with a 34-0 lead. Houston is obviously going to win this division running away this year, and the early 8.5 O/U now looks like a gift for those who bet in early August…Mario Williams had two sacks while transitioning to DC Wade Phillips’ new scheme, but it’s worth noting both came while a helpless Dallas Clark was asked to block him…Better times are ahead for Matt Schaub and Owen Daniels owners…Joseph Addai’s best asset to the Colts is protecting Manning, so don’t be surprised if he becomes less and less relevant moving forward. I’d prefer Delone Carter on my fantasy team right now…Reggie Wayne will retain some value, but Austin Collie, whom I definitely drafted in a few leagues in August before the Manning news was further revealed, doesn’t look like a weekly starter at all. Pierre Garcon played nearly twice as many snaps…Words can’t describe just how bad Kerry Collins was. However, this image taken from the preseason gives some indication…Despite all the Colts hate, can someone explain to me why the Browns, who just lost at home to the Bengals as seven point favorites last week and have averaged 4.7 wins over the past three years, are favored while playing in Indianapolis?

Polar bear attacks woman.

Well, this doesn’t seem like an entirely positive outcome.

I bet on the Redskins under (six wins) this year, but I must say, I’m already pretty worried about that after Week 1, as I expected them to lose five or (all) six games within their division, because they are going to also face the terrible NFC West. Mike Lombardi actually picked them to win the NFC East, and if Rex Grossman continues to play like he did in Week 1, it may not turn out as farfetched as it seemed…Tim Hightower was an awful real life running back (as usual) Sunday, but that won’t matter to fantasy owners as long as he’s used the same way moving forward…Fred Davis and Jason Pierre-Paul are both beasts, with only opportunity standing in the way of them becoming fantasy monsters…I love Hakeem Nicks and am heavily invested in him in my fantasy leagues, but I can’t think of a wide receiver with bigger injury concerns.

Burning car lifted off trapped man.

Woman dies after injecting hot beef fat into her face. Death ruled natural.

As someone who took San Diego in Survivor, let me say being down 7-0 just 20 seconds into the game while also losing the team’s field goal kicker for the rest of the game wasn’t exactly ideal. I especially liked how the narrative of the Chargers’ struggles on special teams (which were supposed to be negated by the closer kickoff spot) and typical slow starts to the season were highlighted immediately. Good times. And by that I mean I lived and died with every play from there on out. After going for it on 4th-and-20 (and failing) inside the 30 (because of Kaeding’s injury), and Rivers throwing another pick while forcing it on third down inside the red zone, punter Mike Scifres was asked to attempt a 40-yard field in desperation in the 4th quarter, and he nailed it. I heart Scifres…Philip Rivers didn’t have the best game of his career, but he dealt with a constant pass rush and was inches away from a 50-yard TD pass to Vincent Jackson, who inexplicably slowed down out of his break before being wide open in the end zone…Donovan McNabb showed he’s not done athletically as a runner, but he got 2.6 YPA. If I lost my survivor pool against a QB who got 2.6 YPA, I would have had to murk someone…Mike Tolbert made two ridiculously impressive plays at the goal line, showing his strength in the process of scoring three touchdowns. He’ll remain in that role (playing on passing downs and inside the red zone) for the foreseeable future, making him a worthy fantasy weekly start without question. However, Ryan Mathews might not only be in a good situation (obviously not as far as roles go, but on the right team), but he also shows glimpses of being “special.” With the ball in their hands, few would argue a slow (and fat) Tolbert matches Mathews’ explosiveness. Mathews has a ton of work to do to prove he can remain durable and improve in pass protection, but he has about as much upside as any back in the league.

Baby suckles directly from cow for milk.

I’m sorry, but any time I hear the word suckle I have to post this.

I must admit, I didn’t foresee Cam Newton throwing for an NFL-record 422 yards (along with two touchdown passes and another on the ground) during his NFL debut. Actually, I was under the impression he’d be a failure, but wow, that was pretty impressive, even if it came against a poor secondary. Because of his rushing ability, he’s absolutely on the fantasy radar now. He’ll likely go through plenty of struggles from here on out with more game film for opponents to digest, but there’s little doubt he’s already a huge upgrade over Carolina’s QB situation last year, so those who bet on the team’s “over” (4.5) before the season can go ahead and spend their money…Beanie Wells will probably get hurt, but there’s no reason not to consider him a top-15 fantasy RB right now…Kevin Kolb had a very nice Week 1 against a Panthers’ secondary that’s pretty good, but realize the 48-yard TD to Jeff King came on a completely busted coverage. Still, Larry Fitzgerald owners should expect plenty of better days ahead.

Dutch woman calls ex-boyfriend 65,000 times.

Companion dog lost in Six Flags theme park.

Not only did David Akers kick four field goals Sunday but all of them were within 31 yards, revealing a red-zone ineptitude rarely matched…Both Seattle and San Francisco have sneaky good defenses against the run, so don’t overly worry about Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore, especially the latter, but both teams passing attacks look to be among the worst in the league….Ted Ginn returned two kicks for a touchdown in less than a minute of gametime…You get the feeling those who drafted Sidney Rice are going to be sorely disappointed.

Easily amazed stoner films confused bird on an escalator.

Surfing was apparently not extreme enough, so why not add some fire to it?

Seriously, why do the Cowboys make it so hard on themselves? They have the talent to make a Super Bowl run, but they also continue to find ways to lose otherwise winnable games…Dez Bryant is a man child with just about as much upside as any receiver in the NFL. It was disappointing to see him cramp up in the second half of Sunday’s game, but it was quite telling how quickly Darrelle Revis went from guarding Miles Austin to Bryant…I must admit, I certainly didn’t see Plaxico Burress having this kind of impact, especially early on…I’m growing tired of the hypothetical fantasy value of Shonn Greene. At some point, he needs to step it up. Already 26 years old, it’s possible he’s just a bum…I like how Al Michaels asked “What do you do here?” before the Jets attempted the game-winning 50-yard field goal. It was 4th-and-8. Not sure there was much of a decision to be made there.

Man jumps over speeding car while front flipping.

Dead boy, 200+ animals found at home.

Before gaining 59 yards and a TD on Monday night, Chad Henne had never rushed for more than 17 yards in any game during his career. Coming off an encouraging preseason, it’s possible Henne makes “the leap” this season…Tom Brady put on an absolute clinic. What a ridiculous performance…Especially with Brady throwing for 517 yards, Chad Ochocinco owners can’t feel great about his one-catch, 17-yard Patriots debut…While they may trade off having big weeks, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are both beasts who should be treated as borderline top-five fantasy tight ends (I’d have a hard time trading Hernandez for Dallas Clark right now). They are the No. 2 and No. 3 targets (and top-two in the red zone) in possibly the NFL’s best passing offense…Finally fully recovered from a hip injury that still lingered last season and now on medication to curtail the crazy, Brandon Marshall looks like a man possessed, and if Monday really was a sign of Henne’s true improvement, Marshall should be treated as a top-five fantasy wideout in PPR formats.

This guy’s boys can swim! In all seriousness, there are some pretty interesting issues brought up here.

Words can’t describe this picture.

What an ugly second game to Monday night’s double-header, as the Raiders and Broncos combined for six fumbles and 25 penalties (for 222 yards). Sebastian Janikowski’s impressive 63-yard field goal was only matched by the size of his dip, and Shane Lechler averaged a ridiculous 58.2 yards on six punts. Oakland dominates in the kicking game…Seriously, how much does ref Jerome Boger sound like the Ladies Man??…Darren McFadden is poised for a monstrous year, barring health. How quickly he went from bust to one of the very best running backs in football.

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Bet On It

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last year I finished 135-117-4, after picking every game ATS over the past four years, I’m 521-475. That’s 52.3% – I’d like to see that number 1-3% higher, but I must say I’m pretty happy about it. I went 12-5 with my “best bets” last season as well. Onto the Week 1 picks: Football is back!

SAINTS +4.5 at Packers

Falcons -3 at BEARS (Best Bet)

COLTS +8.5 at Texans

BILLS +6 at Chiefs

Titans +3 at JAGUARS

BENGALS +6.5 at Browns

Eagles -4.5 at RAMS

Steelers +2 at RAVENS

Lions +1 at BUCCANEERS

VIKINGS +9 at Chargers

GIANTS -3 at Redskins

PANTHERS +7 at Cardinals

Seahawks +5 at 49ers

COWBOYS +4 at Jets

Patriots -7 at DOLPHINS

Raiders +3 at BRONCOS

Comments: This is almost a certain jinx, but I’ve been of the belief for quite some time now that Week 1 presents the best value ATS all season long, and this year looks no different. The three toss-up games for me this week were Ten/Jax, NYG/Was and Oak/Den, but the rest were fairly easy calls – right or wrong. I especially like this slate when it comes to teaser opportunities.

NFL Season Preview

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

AFC East

1. New England Patriots
2. New York Jets (wild card)

3. Miami Dolphins
4. Buffalo Bills

AFC West

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

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Baltimore Ravens (wild card)

3. Cleveland Browns
4. Cincinnati Bengals

AFC South

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

NFC East

1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Philadelphia Eagles (wild card)
3. New York Giants (wild card)

4. Washington Redskins

NFC West

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

NFC North

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

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Carolina Panthers

Super Bowl: Patriots over Saints

MVP: Philip Rivers

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mark Ingram

I know no one cares about how I did betting last year, especially ex post facto bragging, which is the worst, but I won seven of my eight O/U bets (with my one loss in horrible fashion, as I took the Panthers over). In fact, of my seven wins, only one even came down to Week 17 (Browns), as I had the rest locked up beforehand. Considering I bet on the Packers at 30/1 to win the Super Bowl before Week 16 and was pretty successful in teasers, I had my best season by far gambling.

But enough with the positives – whereas last year a bunch of over/unders jumped out, Vegas has really turned the corner this time around. I wanted to fade teams like Chicago and Kansas City, but while the former hosted the NFC Championship game last year, their number is currently 8.5 (with the vig -180 on the under!). And after winning the AFC West in 2010, the Chiefs sat at 7.5 before getting pulled off the board after Matt Cassel got hurt. (All lines courtesy of The M as of 9/7).

And when there were lines I liked: Houston over 8.5 (now off the board), Miami under 7.5, Cincinnati under 6, San Diego over 10 and New Orleans over 10, the vigs got so extreme, it was no longer even worth it. In all those examples, I’d rather cede a half win with a vig closer to even, without question, and sometimes I’d be willing to give up a whole win. In other words – no O/U bets jump out this season, unfortunately. One lesson I learned is to pounce on these in early August before they get so corrected. Of course, that won’t stop a degenerate like me from placing some bets, and here’s what I did:

Dallas OVER 8.5 wins (-145)

New York Giants OVER 9 wins (+115)

Washington UNDER 6 wins (even)

Arizona UNDER 6.5 wins (+170)

I also bet on the Rams to win the NFC West at +140 (this line went way down from when it opened in July).