Archive for October, 2011

Bet On It

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 8-5, also winning my best bet. I’m 52-47-4 so far this year. Best bet is 3-3-1. Onto the Week 8 picks:

Saints -14 at RAMS

DOLPHINS +10 at Giants

Cardinals +13 at RAVENS

Vikings +3 at PANTHERS (Best Bet)

COLTS +9 at Titans

JAGUARS +10 at Texans

LIONS -3 at Broncos

REDSKINS +6 at Bills

Bengals -3 at SEAHAWKS

Browns +9 at 49ers

PATRIOTS -2.5 at Steelers

COWBOYS +3 at Eagles

CHARGERS -3.5 at Chiefs

Comments: Carolina’s defense is suspect, but I like them at home against an inferior Minnesota team this week. My teaser for the week is the Giants (I got them at -9.5 in Vegas) and 49ers. Obviously, I brought them both down seven points.

The Scoop

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

In one of the worst slates in recent memory, I expected the Falcons vs. Lions to be one of the better matchups in Week 7, but even that ended up being pretty ugly. Matthew Stafford has a 16:4 TD:INT ratio on the year, but while he’s limited turnovers recently, he’s gotten just 5.8 YPA over the past two weeks, giving him a 7.1 mark on the season – that number isn’t terrible on the surface, but when you factor in the current passing numbers in today’s NFL (it comes in as 17th best right now), him playing six of seven games in a dome this year and having Calvin Johnson as a teammate, he hasn’t been all that great. Although in his defense, the Lions might have the worst running game in the NFL…Matt Ryan has thrown for multiple touchdowns in just one of seven games this season. He’s yet to get 7.5 YPA in a contest…Michael Turner’s demise may have been a bit overstated, as he currently leads the NFL with 26 broken tackles…Pretty crazy the Jerome Harrison trade almost certainly saved his life.

This commercial isn’t exactly what I’d call PC.

Brandon Marshall has had numerous inexcusable drops, but he’s also had to face the Browns, Chargers, Jets (whom rank as three of the four best fantasy defenses against wide receivers so far this year) and Broncos (when Champ Bailey returned) the last four weeks. Even with Matt Moore – buy. Despite that, he’s still on pace to finish with 91 catches and 1,288 yards…Even without Brandon Lloyd, it looks like Eric Decker owners may be out of luck. Demaryius Thomas, while hardly a sure thing, looks like the Broncos’ preferred WR from here on out, as he was clearly Tim Tebow’s No. 1 target Sunday…Speaking of Tebow, at this point, what more can be said? The dude writes his own scripts. After going 4-for-14 for 46 passing yards over his first 11 drives, he decided to stop messing around and went 9-for-13 for 121 yards with two touchdowns over his final two drives in regulation (h/t ESPNStatsInfo). Also, on a game-on-the-line two-point conversation attempt with possibly the most inaccurate/best running QB in the NFL from the 2-yard line, might want to put a linebacker on him Miami. Not having their goal-line defense on the field in that situation is embarrassing.

Great announcer involved in a crazy set of events.

I can’t say I’m shocked the Texans won in Tennessee on Sunday, but I was rather surprised by the final score. This team may finally be getting it. Arian Foster’s breakaway speed on his 78-yard TD catch was sick, if a bit unexpected. I’d take him No. 1 overall in a redraft today…Ben Tate somehow has the 15th most carries in football so far this season…I’m beginning to think Matt Hasselbeck may miss Kenny Britt. Seriously, that performance was downright ugly coming off a bye against a defense that was missing Mario Williams and had Danieal Manning leave early with a broken leg…Chris Johnson, at least to me, is a true buy-low candidate, because I personally think it would take some guts to trade for him right now. He looks noticeably slower than ever, and while Tennessee’s run blocking has been bad, Javon Ringer looked superior whenever he entered the game last week. Johnson has got 1.9 YPC after contact this season, which ranks 53rd among running backs. But at least it hasn’t shaken his confidence: “Basically, if you are watching the game and you really can’t tell what is going on with the run game then I would say you really don’t know football,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t say I am the issue.” Either way, his fantasy owners aren’t happy.

Worst liquor store robbery ever.

After posting a 15:1 TD:INT ratio over the final eight games of his sophomore season last year, Josh Freeman has an NFL-high 10 interceptions in 2011. His 6.4 YPA is also pretty pathetic, so he’s taken a major step back…Tough break for Earnest Graham owners. In fact, what a ridiculous week for running back injuries, also including Darren McFadden, Beanie Wells, Willis McGahee, Marshawn Lynch and Tim Hightower…Matt Forte’s touchdown upside is limited (thanks to his poor execution at the goal line throughout his career and now Marion Barber’s presence), but he’s currently on pace to finish with 2,494 yards from scrimmage, which would rank as the second-most all-time…Mike Williams remains a big disappointment, but his 60 targets rank as the fifth-highest in the NFL this year (although his six drops also rank as the second most, with only Brandon Marshall having more).

I’m not sure what’s crazier, the makeup job here or the tats.

The Seattle/Cleveland game set football back a good 30 years, although in fairness both teams’ defenses played pretty well. Although you have to work hard to score just six points while possessing the ball for 43 minutes like the Browns did Sunday…Relying on Marshawn Lynch is tough enough to begin with, but it doesn’t get much worse than not playing without any reports suggesting it was even a possibility beforehand. If you’re in a deep league, might as well add Leon Washington…I still like Greg Little as a WR3 for fantasy purposes moving forward…Tarvaris Jackson obviously sucks, but he’s better than Charlie Whitehurst. And Joe Haden’s return certainly contributed to Sidney Rice’s poor performance Sunday…Montario Hardesty’s 117 yards from scrimmage were nice, and it came against arguably (although I’m tired of calling them “surprisingly” at this point) the NFL’s best run defense, but it took a whopping 33 rushing attempts, as he simply hasn’t shown the ability to make defenders miss at the NFL level.

This guy ate a live giant scorpion just for fun.

At what point would it take the Chargers to further outperform their end results to get Norv Turner fired? I mean seriously, how long can this charade go? Frankly, it’s become beyond comical. At this point, no one should ever be throwing their hands up in the air and declaring how San Diego “should have won that game.” Even with Sunday’s latest example, realize they were also spotted a 7-0 lead on a “fluke” defensive TD…Not that Philip Rivers doesn’t deserve plenty of blame this season. His YPA and completion percentage remain high, but after posting a 30:13 TD:INT ratio last season (without Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates for a significant amount of time), he’s totaled eight TDs while committing 11 turnovers through six games. Rivers hadn’t been picked off in his previous 100 throws in the fourth quarter before Sunday, when he was intercepted twice in the final frame and executed one of the worst two-minute drills you’ll ever see…Without question, one of my bigger fantasy disappointments this year has been Santonio Holmes. I expected so much more…I have no proof, but I’d imagine few players have ever managed just 6.3 yards-per-catch with three touchdowns like Plaxico Burress did Sunday…The Jets’ blocking was better, but I’d never seen Shonn Greene run as well as he did in Week 7. Maybe there’s hope for him after all…Quietly, Mark Sanchez has been a top-10 fantasy QB so far this season.

Parking like a boss.

Like clockwork, Coldplay’s new album is sugary sweet, not for music elitists, yet also has 4-6 songs that are legitimately catchy. I get they are easy to make fun of, but there isn’t a band more consistent (and more predictable) in the world. Their new album won’t sniff my top-5 for 2011, but I’d also suggest music snobs shouldn’t be totally dismissive.

Mike Shanahan was at it again Sunday, as I’d imagine far more fantasy owners started Ryan Torain than Tim Hightower, something I personally supported. While it didn’t work in Week 7, and Roy Helu may become a bigger factor, Torain owners still ultimately ended up with a big upgrade after Hightower was lost for the season with a torn ACL…The most rushing touchdowns by a QB since the merger was 12 (by Steve Crogan in 1976), with just two total reaching double digits. Cam Newton is on pace to finish with 16 during his rookie campaign. Oh, and also 4,807 passing yards, which would be the fourth most in NFL history. His rookie season has been pretty special, and fantasy wise, it’s been positively transcendental.

I have no clue why these two people are single. This is the best date ever.

Larry Fitzgerald has averaged 84.2 yards per game this season compared to 71.1 last year, but he’s also on pace to finish with 83 receptions and five touchdowns – both lower than last season’s disappointing numbers. So much for Kevin Kolb returning him to top-three fantasy WR status…It’s become a weekly joke about how badly Ben Roethlisberger had his knee turned or was hit or whatever. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. The guy is indestructible. A prison sentence or the Supervolcano is far more likely to be the cause of him missing a game than an injury…Speaking of injuries, Beanie Wells hurt yet again, ugh!…The Steelers have forced the fewest takeaways over the first seven games of a season since the merger (h/t Bill Barnwell)…Mike Wallace has got 14.3 yards-per-target this season, which I believe would go down as the best mark in NFL history.

I’m someone who still loves roller coasters, so make of this what you will, but if I lived in New York, I’d absolutely go to this Haunted House (tangent: in college, I tagged along with a few friends who had heard good things about this Haunted House in SLO, only when inside they locked the doors and it was a religious cult that preached for at least an hour. I guess ultimately the job was done, because believe me, I was “terrified” by the events at hand). I mean, just look at the rules. Tickets cost $40-60 (depending on the time you attend), and I especially love how you must be prepared to put something unknown in your mouth and how there’s a “safe word.” Sign me up!

Darren McFadden’s foot sprain is reportedly minor, but to me I’d rather a knee or hamstring injury. I hope I’m wrong…The Raiders and Chiefs combined for a 0:8 TD:INT ratio Sunday. That it came with just one total sack against two secondaries that rank in the bottom half of the NFL makes it all the more crazy. The bye week couldn’t come at a better time for Oakland…After starting the year 0-3 and being outscored 109-27 in the process, the Chiefs have rebounded by winning their last three contests by a combined score of 78-41…In Yahoo’s box score, their “top performer” on the day had one carry for seven yards.

Dirt bike lands on a “chick.”

Dallas’ defense by all means played well, but fantasy owners might feel a little disappointed with just one sack and two turnovers at home against a Rams offense that has averaged an NFL-low 9.3 points per game while starting A.J. Feeley…Through six games, the Rams have had a lead for a total of just six minutes and 28 seconds (h/t Bill Barnwell)…Brandon Lloyd received 12 targets immediately upon joining St. Louis and should see a nice increase in fantasy value down the stretch. He’ll no doubt be tougher to trade for now than he was 10 days ago, but there’s also a good chance his value will never be lower from this point moving forward…It’s tempting to not want to get overly excited with just one game (in ideal conditions), but it’s even harder not to be thoroughly impressed with DeMarco Murray, who had the type of performance Sunday that could lead to him being Dallas’ feature back from here on out. Felix Jones even when healthy has always been better in theory than reality, and while he’s hasn’t been able to exploit it, a lead runner in that situation could be quite productive. Murray, while still needing work as a blocker and receiver, could finally be the one to take advantage of it. He’s a must-start this week in Philadelphia. Realize his 3.6 YPC after contact this season ranks as the third-most in the NFL. He could be a true difference maker down the stretch.

The worst (best?) obituary of all-time.

Man who tried to turn his feces into gold is jailed.

Aaron Rodgers’ current 9.93 YPA mark would go down as the best in NFL history (since the merger), and he’s also totaled 21 touchdowns to just three turnovers. With a suspect pass defense, the league’s best passing attack that utilizes spread formations and terrific team speed yet with a shaky rushing attack, the Packers are actually best built to play in a dome, and ironically, poor weather late in the year in Lambaugh Field would actually do this group a huge disservice. They might be more vulnerable playing a home NFC title game than one in a controlled environment. The current Super Bowl odds are the NFC -3…Well, that’s not good…After something of a down year last season, Jared Allen has 10 sacks over his past five games, as he’s been an absolute beast.

If you’re into levitation and/or hover boards, watch these two clips. The future is upon us.

New Orleans’ 62 points scored tied for the most since the merger. Drew Brees had more touchdowns (five) than incompletions (four)…Seriously, how important is Peyton Manning?!!…Darren Sproles is somehow averaging more yards-per-carry (7.4) than he is yards-per-catch (7.3). What a fantastic season he’s having…Why, exactly did Joseph Addai return earlier than expected?…The funny thing about Reggie Wayne’s season is that he’s actually averaging his most yards-per-catch since 2007.

Two stories well worth reading, the first about overconfidence, which absolutely has relevance with fantasy sports (and the title is a clear shot at Malcolm Gladwell) and the second about the anatomy of a baseball trade.

What an ugly Monday night game. It’s almost as if the scheduling had something to do with it. Still not quite sure how Jacksonville went from having a historically bad secondary last year that allowed 8.3 YPA to one this season that has yielded just 6.4. A remarkable difference, especially without a ton of personnel change…What was up with Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew’s fumbling problems? That was crazy…Joe Flacco has produced two games with a QB rating higher than 103.5 this season, and three others with less than 61.0. So inconsistent.

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Bet On It

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 7-4-2, also winning my best bet. I’m 44-42-4 so far this year. Best bet is 2-3-1. Onto the Week 7 picks:

Chargers -1.5 at JETS (Best Bet)

Seahawks +2.5 at BROWNS

Falcons +3.5 at LIONS

Redskins +2 at PANTHERS

BEARS pick ’em vs. Buccaneers

Broncos +1 at DOLPHINS

Texans +3 at TITANS

STEELERS -3.5 at Cardinals

Chiefs +4.5 at RAIDERS

Packers -9 at VIKINGS

Rams +12.5 at COWBOYS

COLTS +14 at Saints

Ravens -8.5 at JAGUARS

Comments: Don’t feel all that great about my “best bet” this week, and for whatever it’s worth, I ended up taking 10 home teams (compared to just two true road teams). No teaser this week; instead, I took a moneyline parlay with the Packers, Cowboys, Saints and Ravens.

The Scoop

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Pretty crazy to get outscored 24-3 while gaining 25 more yards than their opponent like the Rams did Sunday. With the arrival of Brandon Lloyd (seriously, how ridiculous are NFL trades?), it was especially bad timing for Sam Bradford to suffer a high-ankle sprain…Jermichael Finley could explode at any moment and still needs to be viewed as a top-five fantasy tight end, but playing in such a terrific offense has actually hampered his production, as Aaron Rodgers continues to spread the wealth. Rodgers’ favorite receiver is the one he deems has the biggest mismatch on a given play, and Finley, who has finally been able to stay healthy, is on pace to finish with a modest 856 yards as a result, and he’s scored in just one of six games this season (albeit three times in that contest)…Jordy Nelson has averaged 57.5 yards per touchdown catch this season (and that’s with one of them being from three yards out!)…Rodgers is the first passer ever to post a QB rating of 110 or higher in six straight games.

Snoop Dogg is obsessed with the world’s largest turnip. This clip killed me.

Eli Manning owners have to be extremely frustrated, as he played a fantastic game Sunday only to see Ahmad Bradshaw cipher three touchdowns from the 1-yard line. Manning, who has yet to play a game indoors this season, enters his bye with a 9.1 YPA mark…I bet I was the only one to rank Fred Jackson ahead of Steven Jackson in the preseason (as seen in RW’s magazine), but believe me, this is more venting than bragging, as despite that, my cowardice ultimately won out, as he somehow ended up on just one of my (far too many) teams (although luckily, it’s a high stakes NFFC league). He’s easily been the best running back in football so far this season. Not only has he broken the most tackles in the league by far, but Pro Football Focus also grades him as the best blocking back (tied with Bradshaw)…Not only has Hakeem Nicks not dropped a single pass this year, but his seven broken tackles are also tied for the NFL lead.

Man fakes police brutality to get out of speeding ticket.

I killed Dallas Clark last week, but that was a sick one-handed catch he made in the end zone Sunday. Maybe his fantasy value isn’t toast after all…That’s back-to-back weeks the Bengals have scored a defensive touchdown in the final minutes of a game, and for that my fantasy teams thank you…Pat Angerer currently has 73 tackles – the next closest in football is teammate Kavell Conner with 58. Angerer is on pace to finish with 195 tackles. That’s a lot.

This is one of the better hockey fights I’ve seen, highlighted by the “nighty night” antics afterward.

Roddy White owners have to be extremely disappointed with his Week 6 production in a favorable matchup without Julio Jones playing but realize he drew numerous pass interference calls that prevented him from having a big fantasy game. Still, Matt Ryan’s lack of development combined with the return of Jones and the team’s success when relying on the run leaves White’s upside lacking…An NFL-high five passes intended for Steve Smith this season have been intercepted, and while some of that blame surely falls on Cam Newton, Sunday’s pick also revealed another reason why – Smith isn’t very good at becoming a “defender” on passes he’s not going to catch…I’m still looking for an explanation why Carolina spent all that money on DeAngelo Williams when they had Jonathan Stewart.

Man uses his 9-year-old daughter as his designated driver.

Not only do the 49ers look all but certain to have a home game in the playoffs, but they also might even have a bye (they still have five games remaining against the NFC West) – an unimaginable scenario entering the year. As a fan, I’m excited for the first time in years, but while the defense is legit, and the special teams is performing at a historical level through six weeks, it’s pretty easy to acknowledge the lack of a star at QB limits the upside come postseason. As much as I like to see Alex Smith improve, he’s not good enough to win a Super Bowl…And to think, they will be getting Braylon Edwards back soon!…I love Frank Gore, but it’s clear he’s lost a step after getting caught from behind twice Sunday…In a 3-4 base defense, Pro Football Focus currently grades Justin Smith and Ray McDonald as the top two defensive ends, Patrick Willis and Navorro Brown as the No. 2 and No. 5 inside linebackers and Carlos Rogers as the No. 1 cornerback (slightly ahead of Darrelle Revis). Rookie Aldon Smith has also racked up 5.5 sacks over the past three games while only playing situationally…Two huge coaching gaffes (during the game, that is) Sunday. Jim Harbaugh throwing a challenge flag on a scoring play (resulting in a penalty), and Jim Schwartz going for two with the score 19-15 with 14 minutes left (seriously mind boggling). As for the after game scuffle, even as an SF fan, I can easily see why a coach would be upset by Harbaugh’s behavior, although Schwartz in particular maybe should have let it go (exhibit A and exhibit B). Frankly, while admittedly way overblown in the media, I thought the incident was pretty damn funny. But come on, if those two really did fight, how badly would Harbaugh destroy Schwartz?!

This penguin has chosen a life of crime.

Fred Davis has been inconsistent this year, but in the three games in which Chris Cooley has been inactive, left early because of injury or been limited, he’s racked up 17 catches for 286 yards with a touchdown. Cooley is out indefinitely with a finger injury, and after he exited Sunday’s game, Davis was involved heavily, seeing 11 targets. Davis took responsibility for two of Rex Grossman’s four interceptions, but he’s physically gifted and will be given a ton of opportunities moving forward…Well, that was quite an inauspicious start to Vince Young’s tenure in Philly…Watch LeSean McCoy assault Andy Reid…Ryan Torain owners have to be disappointed considering how the Eagles’ run defense had played this year, but it was a jail break every time he touched the ball Sunday. Injuries to Washington’s offensive line and the score had a lot more to do with his poor performance than anything else. Barring health, I remain bullish moving forward.

I watched “Drive” this weekend, and it was easily my favorite movie of the year so far. In fact, no other has been even close.

McDonald’s cashier caught on video beating unruly customers.

Up 17-0 with 11 minutes left in the second quarter, it’s safe to say I didn’t expect the Steelers to win 17-13. The Jaguars’ defense is sneaky good…Rashard Mendenhall finally showed a pulse Sunday, rushing for 146 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, returning from a hamstring injury while busting out of a season long slump in the process. Jacksonville isn’t any good, but its defense is the team’s strength, so it wasn’t against an easy opponent either. The opportunity to buy low has likely come and gone.

The baseball playoffs have been pretty awesome this year, but as someone who had a lot invested in the Brewers, Sunday’s loss was absolutely devastating. I was genuinely depressed. Let’s just say Tony LaRussa used his bullpen slightly better than Ron Roenicke. And while I knew Shaun Marcum was toast at that point, and despite the team’s UZR in the regular season, the defense was going to be a problem, I was ultimately disappointed in Zack Greinke (one swing and miss with no strikeouts?).

Las Vegas man with 100-pound scrotum seeks money for surgery.

Greg Little took advantage of his move into the starting lineup, catching six passes for 72 yards, although he lost a sure touchdown by tripping over his own feet with no defender near him at the 1-yard line. Little saw 12 targets, so he’s now a big part of Cleveland’s offense and clearly the team’s No. 1 option in the passing attack. Despite having just 20 receptions on the year, Little is tied for the NFL lead among wide receivers with seven broken tackles. The second round pick looks like a WR3 for fantasy purposes moving forward…Owner Mike Brown is stubborn, but he’d also have to be crazy to turn down the trade offered by the Raiders. Oakland sent a first and second (could become another first, although highly unlikely) round pick in order to acquire Palmer, and while it’s obviously a steep price (especially considering how cost controlled those top picks are now), it’s nice to see a team be so aggressive. The move was made thanks to Jason Campbell’s collarbone injury, and the team’s subsequent (rightfully so) lack of faith in Kyle Boller. It’s unclear what kind of shape Palmer is in, but at least he’s familiar with Hue Jackson’s offense. The former No. 1 overall pick’s play has fallen off over the past few seasons, but he did produce 50 touchdowns over the last two years, and it’s easy to forget he’s still just 31 years old. The signing is good news for Darren McFadden and especially Darrius Heyward-Bey owners. Also, Oakland’s odds to win the Super Bowl moved from 40/1 to 30/1 after the trade…For all the Raiders’ criticism with trades and draft picks, not only is it worth pointing out McFadden has become a top-five running back and DHB is emerging, but PFF has graded Richard Seymour as easily the top defensive tackle in the NFL this season (he finished No. 9 last year). That’s obviously worth whatever draft pick they gave up.

Pretty remarkable this guy survived a 900-foot fall after his parachute failed to open.

This news just made my day.

Arian Foster had a couple of bad drops, but his 11 targets tied Darren Sproles for the league-lead by running backs in Week 6. Although it was concerning for Foster owners seeing Ben Tate get nine carries to Foster’s 15…The Ravens have allowed a 65.9 QB rating to opposing passers along with a 3.3 YPC against mark with just one rushing score this season. This looks like the best defense in football.

This machine will shred anything.

Crazy sick pass by Rajon Rondo.

Although he didn’t play well Sunday, Drew Brees became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 350-plus yards in four straight games. Seriously, how many passing records are going to be set in 2011?…Nice to see Tampa Bay’s passing attack show a pulse, but Mike Williams owners are still left wanting (a lot) more…Darren Sproles is on pace to finish with 72 rushing attempts this season. And 1,363 yards from scrimmage.

Young woman ages 50 years in a matter of days.

New iPhone app may have ended a marriage.

Aaron Hernandez hauled in eight catches for 68 yards and a touchdown Sunday, and while he also lost a fumble (unbelievably, it was the Pats’ first fumble in 389 plays this season), his 14 targets tied for the most among tight ends with Brandon Pettigrew in Week 6. Hernandez is on a 16-game pace to finish with 108 receptions for 1,156 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s the No. 2 option in arguably the best passing attack in the NFL. Only Jimmy Graham should be ranked ahead of him among fantasy tight ends, and it’s not particularly close…I admit I fell for the Felix Jones preseason hype, but it should surprise no one he’s once again injured, this time with a high-ankle sprain that will cost him multiple weeks. Jones’ YPC has fallen each year he’s been in the NFL, bottoming out at 4.0 this season. He’s reached 100 yards rushing in two of his 41 career games played. DeMarco Murray is the obvious beneficiary while Jones is sidelined…Dez Bryant has been held catchless in the second half in three of four games this season…The Cowboys have allowed 6.8 YPA while recording 16 sacks over just five games, while also yielding 3.3 YPC as the only team in football yet to allow a 20-yard rush this season. Their scoring against is also skewed thanks to two INTs returned for touchdowns in the Lions game, and they just held the Patriots to fewer than 30 points for the first time in 14 games (while in New England). In fact, the Pats had scored just 13 points until 22 seconds were left. This Dallas defense is legit.

This marketing ploy is pretty cool.

My friend has made some shirts for you S.F. fans, so buy accordingly. Seriously, the Tim Lincecum F bombs is quite clever. Also, Harbaugh should be considered God like at this point – the man is a deity.

Donovan McNabb has obviously “lost his fastball,” and I really have no problem with playing a rookie in order to assess the future, but it’s clear Minnesota is a worse team with Christian Ponder under center. Not that it should matter short-term to the franchise, but it’s also unclear if this could hurt his development, as Ponder looked overmatched in the preseason…Seriously, how much of a travesty was it that Jay Cutler’s girl Kristin Cavallari was voted off “Dancing With The Stars” so early?! I’m beginning to think straight men aren’t their target audience.

These two went next level with their sex life.

Funny tip left by a math nerd.

Brandon Marshall versus Darrelle Revis was one of the rare one-on-one matchups in the NFL that took over a game. I loved seeing two highly competitive players going at it like that, trying to salvage an otherwise unwatchable game in primetime. Pass interference could have been called on Revis’ sick 100-yard INT return for a TD, and Marshall had the disadvantage of Matt Moore throwing him the ball, but his drops remain a serious concern. His six are tied for the NFL “lead” with Mike Williams (TB)…And speaking of Revis, according to Pro Football Focus, QBs currently have a rating of 4.9 when throwing into his coverage. The next best corner is Jonathan Joseph at 47.0. After about a dozen or so quarterbacks are off the board, if starting a franchise, I’d take Revis and Calvin Johnson next (followed by about another dozen linemen)…I expected a lot more out of Santonio Holmes this year…If Shonn Green broke tackles like he did this ref, he’d be a lot better running back.

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Bet On It

Friday, October 14th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 6-7, once again losing my best bet after jumping out to a huge lead (17-0). I’m 37-38-2 so far this year. Best bet is 1-3-1. Onto the Week 6 picks:

PANTHERS +3.5 at Falcons

49ers +4 at Lions

Colts +7 at BENGALS

EAGLES -1 at Redskins

Rams +15 at PACKERS

Jaguars +12.5 at STEELERS

Bills +3 at GIANTS

Browns +7 at RAIDERS

TEXANS +8 at Ravens

SAINTS -4.5 at Buccaneers

COWBOYS +7 at Patriots

Vikings +2.5 at BEARS (Best Bet)

Dolphins +7.5 at JETS

Comments: I hate taking nine favorites, but I’m not switching any single game just because of that fact. I must admit though, I worry I’ve switched from my previous strategy to going more “obvious” picks here, and not worrying about the public vs. sharps angle. I’ve clearly made a conscious choice to ignore the latter with these picks. Also, two people I respect think the Bears line is one of the worst/craziest ever, and while I made them my best bet, I’m kind of on the fence there. And to be fair, I’ll give my teaser of the week – Raiders and Jets.

The Scoop

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Pregame reports suggested Ben Roethlisberger could barely walk onto the field while the rest of his teammates sprinted on, so naturally, he proceeds to throw five touchdowns against a secondary that had been playing at a very high level. Despite taking a constant beating, I’d give Big Ben about even odds the chances he misses his next game is due to suspension (for obvious reasons) rather than injury…The Steelers/Titans game wasn’t great, but it did feature the photo of the week.

Mountain biker gets taken out by buck.

As someone who started the Bengals in a few leagues, the ridiculous defensive touchdown on the final play of the game thanks to multiple laterals was a thing of beauty…Despite playing at least 83 fewer snaps than any of the four receivers listed above him, Mike Thomas has the fifth most targets in the NFL this season with 44…A.J. Green has committed by far the most penalties among wide receivers this year (five), but it’s hard not to consider him one of the brightest rising stars in the game.

Pimp of the Year (one of my favorite clips from one of the most underrated comedies of all-time).

There’s some concern Darren Sproles will eventually wear down with this kind of usage, but he’s actually averaged just 5.2 rushing attempts per game, and whether true or not, studies have shown receptions have less consequences on the body. He may only be 5-6, but he’s also 190, which isn’t exactly Dexter McCluster (170) territory. Sproles has always had a ton of talent as a third-down back, but he’s being utilized better than ever, and playing home games on turf highlights his quickness, which might be second to none in the NFL. Despite having just the 44th most rushing attempts among all backs, Sproles is on pace to finish with 1,437 yards from scrimmage and has been an absolute monster in PPR formats. I certainly didn’t expect him to be the most valuable of the three Saints’ running backs…Cam Newton has 13 carries inside the 10 yard line this season. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have a combined three…Can someone explain to me why the Panthers called a timeout on defense at the end of the first half to allow the Saints to kick a field goal?

Probably the craziest picture I’ve ever seen.

Darrius Heyward-Bey has racked up 214 receiving yards and a touchdown over the past two games, and while he’s showed promise before only to disappear shortly thereafter, it’s telling he saw a whopping 19 targets over that span. He was quite raw coming out of Maryland, so it’s no surprise it’s taken him a few years to get acclimated to the NFL. The Raiders are a run-heavy team, and talented rookie Denarius Moore could threaten to become the team’s WR1, but DHB is finally relevant in fantasy leagues. His upcoming schedule against a Browns secondary possibly without Joe Haden, followed by Kansas City and then Denver, looks enticing…I’m a Hue Jackson fan – he’s uncommonly aggressive, and I loved the emotion he showed at the end of the game, but going for two (in a 14-12 game) with 1:09 left in the first half was way too early. This looked bad at the time and even worse when the Raiders had a 25-17 lead in the fourth quarter…Arian Foster owners can be disappointed with 68 rushing yards on 22 carries against an Oakland defense that entered allowing an NFL-high 5.9 YPC, but the Raiders clearly adjusted and sold out to stop the run (especially with no AJ), and obviously, it’s tough to complain about Foster’s 116 receiving yards…Pretty crazy that Oakland made that stop on the final play of the game with just 10 defenders on the field.

This article about the Red Sox’s collapse is fascinating, albeit not for the author’s intended reasons. What an embarrassing piece of journalism (and this coming from someone who has little standards).

I had the Eagles as part of a parlay last week, and I deserved to lose. I do think they are better than they’ve played (obviously) and would once again take them against Washington this week, even as a pick ‘em at 1-4 on the road facing a 3-1 team coming off a bye, but they aren’t a team with terrific peripherals that their record doesn’t reflect (like San Diego last year). Advanced stats (like Brian Burke, Football Outsiders, etc.) had them as heavy dogs against the Bills, so shame on me for ignoring that (or not? I mean seriously, it was all crazy turnovers that are historically random. Ugh)…David Nelson has just three receptions for 24 yards over his past two contests. The loss of Donald Jones for 4-to-6 weeks with an ankle injury could theoretically result in more targets, but in reality it moves Nelson from the slot (an important position in a Chan Gailey offense) to the outside, which might not be the best fit. Take a wait-and-see approach here…Got to love Andy Reid (and by that I mean loathe if you bet on Philly), as he decided to punt Sunday on 4th-and-4 down 14 points at Buffalo’s 37 yard line. Naturally, it resulted in a touchback. But that pales in comparison to the indiscipline it takes to have his team jump offsides (coming off a timeout) on 4th-and-1 down 31-24 at midfield with 1:23 left, when the Bills clearly had no intention of ever snapping the ball, effectively ending the game…Fred Jackson has broken 23 tackles this year. The next highest is Adrian Peterson with 17.

Pretty sick goal.

The Cardinals were down 28-0 at the end of the first quarter. Even the Vikings couldn’t blow that lead in the second half…Donovan McNabb might not be the only quarterback Andy Reid recently sold high on, as Kevin Kolb’s hot start with his new team in Arizona has quickly turned south. He’s gotten 7.4 YPA, which is just OK in today’s NFL and not good when combined with a 5:9 TD:turnover ratio over five games. He’s also taken 16 sacks and committed the most penalties among quarterbacks with four, all while having the benefit of one of the NFL’s best receivers at his disposal. It’s certainly too early to call Kolb a bust, but the early signs aren’t encouraging…Percy Harvin continues to be given more carries than any other receiver and his snaps are up since Week 1, but after a one-catch, 11-yard performance Sunday, his fantasy owners have to be fed up. In fact, Harvin is on pace to finish with just 58 catches for 586 yards and zero receiving scores. I wouldn’t recommend dropping Harvin by any means, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep betting on his talent overcoming his situation…The Cardinals for some reason attempted a 51 yard field goal on 4th-and-6 down 28 points Sunday.

If this isn’t “indisputable evidence” of the existence of an Abominable Snowman, I don’t know what is.

Over the past two weeks, my “best bets” have cumulatively been up 44-3, and I’ve lost both, despite each spread being less than three points. That’s hard to do. My latest bitterness involves the Colts’ collapse…Jackie Battle entered last week as an undrafted 28-year-old back who had gotten just 3.0 YPC in his career, but he made the most of his newfound opportunity, totaling 140 yards on just 21 touches. The performance raised his career YPC nearly a full yard (3.9), which shows how little work he was previously given. Battle’s big game came against a Colts defense that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, but Thomas Jones looks done, and Dexter McCluster struggles to break tackles, so he should continue to get the majority of touches in Kansas City’s backfield. Battle isn’t a special talent, and there’s no telling how he’ll hold up physically, but he’s obviously a must-add in all fantasy leagues with his new role…In deeper leagues, pick up Steve Breaston…Dallas Clark has just six catches for 65 yards over his last three games total, including three bad drops last week (he “leads” all tight ends with six this season). Remarkably, Pro Football Focus currently rates him last among 57 tight ends who qualify in the NFL. With him performing so poorly and no Peyton Manning, it’s a combination that’s resulted in zero fantasy value…Pierre Garcon has been the No. 1 fantasy WR since Curtis Painter took over as Indy’s QB, and while Painter can’t be expected to continue getting 9.1 YPA (with a 48.5 completion percentage!), it’s clear the two have a strong rapport. Garcon is simply the superior athlete to Reggie Wayne at this stage of their careers, and precise route running doesn’t matter as much without Peyton Manning calling the shots. With such a poor defense, the Colts should continue to have to keep airing it out as well. Garcon’s 11.8 YAC/reception currently leads all wide receivers by a wide margin (second-best is Victor Cruz with 9.3).

I finally saw “Moneyball” and surprisingly really liked it. Maybe my low expectations helped (and yes, there were aspects to complain about), but I thought the filmmakers did a terrific job with the material at hand.

Also, having Tim Allen make a lame fantasy football joke during an NFL broadcast is more than a little questionable – I can’t wait to see his new show canceled within five episodes.

Victor Cruz has totaled 17 catches for 369 yards and three touchdowns over the past three games, none of which he’s started. He’s badly outplayed Mario Manningham in the process, but the latter can’t be written off, and Hakeem Nicks remains the team’s WR1, so some regression can safely be expected, but no receiver can keep that kind of pace no matter his situation. Cruz is obviously talented and will remain a major part of the Giants’ offense moving forward, although his targets may not be there on a consistent basis. Still, with New York’s shaky defense, especially in the secondary, and the running game struggling, the team’s passing attack will continue to be relied upon heavily. Despite playing limited snaps, Cruz’s five broken tackles are tied for fifth-most in the NFL among wide receivers…R.I.P., most “survivor” teams that were alive in Week 5. And with Charlie Whitehurst playing a big role on the road, no less!…The Giants completed a pass downfield to Hakeem Nicks with 40 seconds left in the first half, and despite having all three timeouts left, elected to waste 11 seconds to re-gather and spike the ball. Huh?

An unexpected ending to a horse race, although not as funny as this one (the first suffered no life-threatening injuries, to be clear).

The 49ers are the only team yet to allow a rushing TD or a running back to reach 65 rushing yards in a game this season. As a San Francisco fan who picked the Rams to win the NFC West before the season, it’s pretty shocking to even consider them having a home playoff game (way, way too soon), but a 48-3 victory over any team (let alone one 3-1, even if they are a fraud) in the NFL is pretty impressive. Consider me shocked…Mike Williams has just 19 catches for 183 yards on the year, with as many fumbles lost as touchdowns (one). His 9.6 yards-per-catch is downright anemic, as the entire Bucs’ passing attack has taken a major step back this season. I’ve preached patience with Williams, but it’s hard not to be concerned at this point, and those with viable alternatives can bench him for now. It’s hard not to think of the Michael Clayton comparison. Still, while it’s easy to point out last year’s 11-TD, 65-catch ratio was unsustainable, Williams was a beast in the red zone as a rookie and would have likely been a first round pick if not for off-field issues – he’s clearly a talented player, fully capable of breaking out of this slump…Football Outsiders lists San Francisco with a 97.5% chance of making the playoffs. Green Bay is at 97.4%…For what it’s worth, Alex Smith had the highest “QBR” in Week 5.

Taking a squash ball at 175 mph looks painful.

After taking over for Kyle Orton on Sunday and since being named Denver’s starter, Tim Tebow is the obvious top waiver wire add entering Week 6. He’s gotten 8.0 YPA during his brief career, which is almost certainly unsustainable unless he greatly improves his 48.9 completion percentage. Of course, fantasy owners care more about his ability to run than his poor mechanics and unlikelihood to be an above average NFL quarterback. Tebow should get an extended opportunity to show what he can do, and his seven rushing touchdowns over 12 career appearances reveal quite a bit of fantasy upside. Brandon Lloyd and Eric Decker give him a couple of quality receiving options, and he now has a bye week to work with the starters in practice. The Broncos’ schedule also looks favorable moving forward, so Tebow should be considered a top-12 fantasy QB right now…Willis McGahee has improbably topped 100 rushing yards in three of the past four games, including a remarkable 7.4 YPC mark over the last two. The designated goal-line back for Denver even before taking over as the team’s starter, McGahee has just one rushing score on the year (two total), and that number is unlikely to increase greatly with Tebow taking over. Still, a healthy Knowshon Moreno didn’t receive a single carry last week, as McGahee looks rejuvenated at soon-to-be age 30…As a huge Ryan Mathews backer, I’m not sure whether to be encouraged he returned from an injury he almost certainly looked unlikely to, or be discouraged that he continues to battle maladies regularly. At least he has a bye week to heal.

Case of the unwanted enema remains unsolved, according to California police.

I’m sure you’ve all heard it by now, but it’s still one of the most mind blowing stats I’ve heard in quite some time. Tom Brady threw the first interception of his career at home in the red zone Sunday, as he previously held a 91:0 TD:INT ratio. And naturally, Aaron Hernandez should have caught a would-be touchdown on the play. Speaking of Hernandez, he was targeted heavily, drawing multiple pass interference penalties that made an otherwise OK fantasy day a lot less than it could’ve been. He should be treated as a top-five fantasy tight end from here on out…BenJarvus Green-Ellis is essentially having the same season as last year, at least yardage wise. He’s actually on pace to finish with 16 touchdowns…I can’t blame Darrelle Revis, more so the scheme, since he’s the best defender in football, but why he allowed Wes Welker to release to the safety on his 73-yard catch is beyond me…People seem down on the Jets, but I don’t get it – their three losses have come against the Raiders, Ravens and Patriots all on the road, and they have held opposing passers to just a 66.6 QB rating (second-lowest only to Baltimore). New York will be fine.

Lawmaker wants state to reinstate dwarf tossing.

I had an extremely successful season betting (almost exclusively with teasers) last year, and even in the beginning of 2011, but I’ve hit a snag recently, with Week 5 no exception. Not only the aforementioned parlay loss, but I went in on Atlanta +6, which I felt pretty good about when they took a 14-0 lead. I actually don’t like the Falcons at all (I bet their “under” 10 wins before the season), but they typically play well at home, and I figured they’d be “up” in primetime after a slow start to the season versus the team that embarrassed them in the playoffs last year, and no matter how good the Packers are – it’s tough to win five straight games in the NFL, and they entered with a horrible pass defense. Shame on me. Aaron Rodgers versus Matt Ryan was a mismatch of epic proportions…Ryan has committed more turnovers (nine) than touchdowns (seven) this season, despite adding exciting rookie Julio Jones to the WR corps along with star Roddy White (although if you heard Cris Collinsworth, he claims White is far more injured than letting on). Tony Gonzalez has looked rejuvenated as well. Ryan’s 6.6 YPA mark ranks 25th in the NFL, behind the likes of rookie Andy Dalton. Thanks to 196 passing attempts that are tied for the second-most in football, he’s maintained some fantasy value, but Ryan is really struggling, and as a result, Atlanta looks like huge long shots to contend with the Saints for the NFC South crown.

Massively hung squirrel ruins televised bake-off.

The Lions have outscored their opponents 109-23 in the second half this season…The Bears had eight false starts Monday night, which is more than 25 teams have committed all year…Jahvid Best is fast, especially on turf…If Sam Hurd had scored on the final meaningless play of that game (he got to the two yard line), that would have been one of the worst (I only say this because I backed Detroit, of course) backdoor covers in recent memory…Who would have thought the 49ers at the Lions would be one of the most marquee matchups of Week 6?

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Bet On It

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 7-9, although I lost my best bet despite Dallas being up 27-3 in the third quarter and with the ball. I’m 31-31-2 after three weeks. Even Steven like Jerry Seinfeld. Best bet is 1-2-1. Onto the Week 5 picks:

Saints -6.5 at PANTHERS

EAGLES -2 at Bills

Seahawks +10 at GIANTS

Bengals +1 at JAGUARS

Chiefs +1 at COLTS (Best Bet)

TITANS +4.5 at Steelers

Cardinals +2 at VIKINGS

RAIDERS +5.5 at Texans

Buccaneers +3 at 49ers

JETS +9.5 at Patriots

Chargers -4 at BRONCOS

Packers -6 at FALCONS

Bears +5.5 at LIONS

Comments: The Colts are bad but clearly better with Curtis Painter, and they are playing another league doormat. Look for desperate Indy finally to get into the win column, with home field being the difference…I wouldn’t be surprised by numerous upsets this week, and I’m not just talking about the games with spreads fewer than a field goal. Namely the Falcons and Raiders.

The Scoop

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Seriously, how do you blow a 27-3 lead in the third quarter with the ball? With the way Dallas’ defense was playing, it’s safe to say having the offense kneel every play would have resulted in a win, but that’s obviously in hindsight. Tony Romo was unlucky two of his picks were returned for touchdowns, but some of those turnovers in that situation were simply inexcusable, and this coming from a full-blown Romo apologist. As someone who picked the Cowboys as my “best bet” of the week, I had to record a video to vent my frustrations…Calvin Johnson is beyond ridiculous. You know how they say some receivers are still open when covered? Well, he’s still open when double-covered…Detroit has now won eight straight games (they were 5-47 over their previous 52 contests). The Lions also tied the NFL record Sunday for biggest comeback ever on the road…I especially liked how on the final play of the game for Dallas they dumped it off to Felix Jones on 4th-and-20 and then he promptly ran out of bounds after breaking a tackle to gain seven yards…Four teams have already won after trailing by 20+ points this season – tied for most ever in NFL history…At this point, nothing short of a death on the field could get Joe Buck to raise his voice and act excited announcing.

Remi Gaillard is back, this time as The Spider.

After rushing for 205 yards on 25 carries Sunday, Matt Forte is now on pace to finish the season with 2,536 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. He’s up to a career-high 5.4 YPC on the year, which is remarkable considering Chicago’s offensive line. Marion Barber stole a goal-line TD in Week 4, which could continue to be a problem moving forward now that he’s healthy, but it’s hard to argue with Forte’s yardage output. It’s becoming increasingly difficult not to consider him a special back…The Bears had somehow scored 24 points while throwing just one pass midway through the second quarter…Steve Smith was badly underthrown on his 53-yard catch, so it should have resulted in a touchdown. Remarkably, at age 32 and despite posting just 15 receiving yards in one game (thanks in part to a monsoon), Smith is on pace to finish with 2,120 receiving yards, which would be 272 more yards than Jerry Rice’s record-setting 1995 season.

Meet “SuperVaclav” – A budding superhero who fights crime against leaving dog poop and public smoking, although he’s also not a big fan of staying around for confrontations afterward.

Adrian Peterson is without question the safest fantasy asset, but it’s clear with his surroundings, Arian Foster, Darren McFadden, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy possess more upside…I’m beginning to think Thomas Jones may have lost some explosion at this stage of his career.

World’s scariest perp poses for yet another nightmare-inducing mug shot.

Badass teacher stops fight with verbal smackdown.

After rushing for 155 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers, it’s safe to say Arian Foster is back. In fact, thanks in part to Ben Tate leaving with a groin injury, Foster racked up 19 rushing attempts before the two-minute warning of halftime Sunday. Tate’s status remains up in the air, and Foster isn’t even listed on this week’s injury-report, and with no Andre Johnson, expect another heavy workload in Week 5. With possibly the NFL’s best run-blocking unit on his side, Foster, who might be the best cutback runner in all of football, should be treated as a top-three fantasy player moving forward…Although he scored, Rashard Mendenhall managed just 25 yards on nine carries before exiting Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. He isn’t expected to practice much this week and is highly questionable to play in Week 5, making Isaac Redman an intriguing guy to stash even with a difficult upcoming matchup against the Titans. Even before the injury, Mendenhall was off to an extremely discouraging start to the season, getting a paltry 3.0 YPC while offering next to nothing as a receiver. The offensive line has been a big problem, and while I’m not a believer in the “curse of 370,” it’s possible Mendenhall is feeling the effects of his NFL-high 385 rushing attempts last season. He’s become a legitimate concern…The Steelers didn’t touch the ball until there was 4:05 left in the first quarter Sunday…Even fantasy players who don’t own Andre Johnson had to cringe watching him go down without contact like a sniper shot him Sunday, although a tentative prognosis of him missing three weeks actually sounds like good news compared to how bad it could have been. In the meantime, Owen Daniels gets the obvious bump in fantasy value, while Kevin Walter becomes a viable option in deep leagues now dealing with bye weeks. It’s safer to take a wait-and-see approach with the enigmatic Jacoby Jones.

Where do you take a sheet?

What were the Bills thinking entering halftime up 17-3? They clearly perform best down at least 20 at that juncture…The Bengals have allowed just 6.3 YPA and four passing scores while yielding an NFL-low 3.1 YPC this season. The schedule has been relatively easy, but with upcoming matchups in Jacksonville and at home against Indy, they are a sneaky fantasy option in the short-term.

I’m pumped for the announcement of the return of “Arrested Development,” and apparently so are Ben & Jerry.

Speaking of underrated defenses, the same could be said about Tennessee, who has allowed a league-low 5.7 YPA with a 4:5 TD:INT ratio and just 3.2 YPC with one rushing score on the year. And to think, the Titans are a Week 1 loss (by two points) to the lowly Jags from being the only undefeated team in the AFC…Nate Washington was shadowed by emerging shutdown corner Joe Haden last week (in fact, his 52-yard catch came when Haden left with a knee injury), gets a stout Pittsburgh secondary in Week 5 (tied for NFL-low 5.7 YPA, although strangely the Steelers are the only team in football yet to record an interception) and then a bye in Week 6, so the new No. 1 WR in Tennessee could soon present a buy-low opportunity. Things really ease up afterward…Colt McCoy had never attempted more than 41 passes in a game before throwing the ball 61 times Sunday.

Children, clear the phones.”

Ryan Torain didn’t receive his first touch of the season until the middle of the second quarter in Week 4, but he made the most of his opportunity, rushing for 135 yards and a touchdown on just 19 carries. The Rams have been poor defending the run this season, but this was an eye-opening performance regardless of opponent, as coach Mike Shanahan described it perfectly when he called a now fully healthy Torain a man “possessed.” He’s without question a major injury risk, but Torain totaled 751 yards with five touchdowns over eight starts last season, so he’s clearly talented. Tim Hightower’s absence may have had something to do with a shoulder injury that went unreported (although there were rumblings late last week that Shanahan was considering giving Torain an extended opportunity), but it’s worth noting he’s forced the same amount of missed tackles (five) this year while playing 187 snaps as Torain did over 2.5 quarters Sunday. Hightower should remain the passing down back, and while rookie Roy Helu looks promising, he’s most trusted in a change-of-pace role now, so there’s going to be a major opportunity for Torain coming out of the team’s bye, when they are lined up to face PHI, @CAR and @BUF – three teams that rank in the bottom-six in the NFL in YPC allowed…Sam Bradford completed just 46.5 percent of his passes while getting 3.8 YPA and taking seven sacks in Week 4, as he continues to take a major step back during his sophomore campaign. There’s plenty to blame other than Bradford of course, highlighted by a WR corps that not only struggles to separate but also easily “leads” the league with 17 dropped passes (and has apparently lost Danny Amendola for the season). The offensive line has also been a problem, and it’s taken longer than hoped to learn Josh McDaniels’ new offensive system. Still, Bradford’s rookie season was a bit overrated to begin with (6.0 YPA while playing 11 games in a dome), so there’s some reason to worry. He’s not a top-20 fantasy QB.

I was really happy to see Amanda Knox freed, and while I in no way can begin to feel the pain of the Kercher family and can understand why they would be upset being overshadowed, I still don’t get why they acted bothered about Knox being released, claiming they need closure. The admitted (and convicted) killer is currently in prison! How much more closure can you get?! Speaking of, you stay classy TMZ.

Ronnie Brown’s fumble/pass was easily one of the weirdest plays I’ve ever seen in the NFL…Good thing I benched Frank Gore in Y! Friends & Family. Ugh…Failing to protect a big lead and struggling in short-yardage, what a classic Andy Reid game…What a ridiculously impressive forced fumble by Justin Smith on Jeremy Maclin to win the game. I must say, I didn’t foresee the 49ers being up two games in the NFC West one month into the season.

Watch a high school kicker nail a 64-yard field goal with room to spare.

Jimmy Graham recorded 10 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown Sunday, and there’s no question he’s a top-three fantasy tight end. He got a whopping 14 targets, while no other New Orleans wide receiver saw more than seven. Graham’s 147 yards after contact this year lead all tight ends, and he has room for improvement just now in the second year of his career. Kellen Winslow Sr. holds the record for most receiving yards in a season by a tight end in the modern era with 1,290 in 1980. At the quarter pole, Graham is on pace to finish with 1,468 yards. So glad I turned him down straight up for Ben Tate when Brad Evans made that offer a few weeks back…How does Maurice Jones-Drew have just five carries over the first three quarters? Might want to give him a few more touches moving forward…Darren Sproles surprisingly leads the NFL (by a wide margin) with 4.6 YPC after contact.

Man who plotted fake bear attack on ex-girlfriend jailed.

Julio Jones racked up another 11 catches for 127 yards Sunday, giving him 24 and 342 for the year, respectively. He’s still searching for his first touchdown of the season, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the rookie’s fast start. The worries about him being slow to pick up the playbook have certainly been quieted. On the flip side, Jones looks likely to have a negative impact on Roddy White’s fantasy value…It took just 17 game minutes for the Seahawks to cut a 27-7 deficit to 30-28, but ultimately, the valiant comeback fell short. Still, it’s clear last year’s No. 1 seed in the NFC is quite vulnerable this season.

Worshipper rips out both eyes in Mass with his bare hands.

Beanie Wells was a gametime decision Sunday with a hamstring injury, and because of the matchup and late afternoon start, he might have been on some fantasy benches, which would have been frustrating for those owners who watched him run for 138 yards and three touchdowns. The 5.1 YPC at less than full strength is even more impressive when you consider his scores came from one, one and two yards out – all powerful runs he finished strong. Wells still struggles in pass protection and as a receiver, and whether he can stay healthy remains to be seen, but it’s clear last season’s struggles can be directly attributed to a knee injury that lingered all year long, as he’s an explosive, highly talented back when right. He’s a top-12 fantasy RB…Mario Manningham returned Sunday after missing a game with a concussion, and he immediately had a drop and ran a wrong route while having miscommunication with Eli Manning. As a result, he found himself on the bench behind Victor Cruz in two wide receiver sets, as he finished the game with just one catch for 10 yards. Manningham is too talented not to break out of his early season slump, and he makes for a buy-low target in fantasy leagues, but the safe play is to keep him benched for now…Even as someone who bet on the Giants “over” and the Cardinals “under” before the season and also have Hakeem Nicks on numerous teams (who scored a TD on the next play), I fully admit that non-fumble call on Victor Cruz was pretty bogus. I would have been infuriated if I were an Arizona fan.

It’s probably best not to rob a gas station if there’s a cop standing right behind you.

Thanks partly to a Danny Woodhead ankle injury, Stevan Ridley got an extended look Sunday, and he made the most of it, rushing for 97 yards on just 10 carries. His 33-yard TD run revealed explosion BenJarvus Green-Ellis simply doesn’t possess. This follows an impressive preseason by the rookie, who’s already a superior receiver to BGE as well. Woodhead remains week-to-week, and Green-Ellis remains the favorite for goal-line work, but Ridley has a ton of upside if he were ever given a chance as a feature back on such a high-powered offense, even if it’s a pass-first one…Jason Campbell’s interception in the end zone with no Raider within 10 yards was one of the more inexplicable throws I’ve seen in a while. Amazingly, it was Oakland’s first turnover inside the red zone since 2009…As crazy as it sounds, Darrius Heyward-Bey is on the radar in deep fantasy leagues…I like (and by “like” I mean can’t stand) how Hue Jackson elected to punt down 18 points on 4th-and-3 at their own 27-yard line with 6:38 left. Down 18 points on 4th-and-3 at their own 27-yard line with 3:43 left, he then decided to go for it. Huh?

Well, this isn’t your average burglary.

Kyle Orton isn’t one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, and he ended up getting 8.5 YPA in Week 4, but to be blunt, some of his throws were truly awful Sunday…Fifteen carries, 103 yards rushing in Green Bay – where did that come from Willis McGahee?…It looks like Eric Decker can maintain fantasy value even with Brandon Lloyd back in the lineup, although all bets are off when it becomes Tim Tebow time…While he eclipsed 100 total yards, it was disappointing James Starks couldn’t do more in a game in which Ryan Grant was inactive, and the Packers scored 49 points…Aaron Rodgers became the first QB ever to throw for four touchdowns and run for two scores in the same game.

These Yahoo “recommendations” appear a bit spiteful.

I’m still a Brandon Marshall believer, and while shaky QB play is partly to be blamed for his mediocre start, he’s had some seriously crushing drops that have cost him at least two touchdowns so far this season. After a bye and then a matchup with Revis Island, he’ll be an excellent buy-low target…Vincent Jackson owners can hardly complain with 108 receiving yards and a touchdown, but considering he didn’t record a catch after 12:01 left in the second quarter, it could have been so much more. His constant battle with injuries has become a problem…Ryan Mathews may have lost a goal-line score to Mike Tolbert, but he totaled 149 yards while finally revealing the ability to be productive while playing through an injury. It was also important to see Norv Turner give him 21 touches after he missed practice most of the week, a rare occurrence by the coach. Tolbert once again struggled rushing, getting just 2.8 YPC, and remember Mathews scored twice from inside the five just one week prior. Even if they split work from in close, San Diego could easily produce twice the amount of goal-line carries than a team like Minnesota. Sunday marked yet another encouraging development for Mathews owners.

This pizza vending machine also happens to have a 37-inch flat screen TV as well.

What a bizarre and ugly game Sunday night. The five return touchdowns by the Jets and Ravens set an NFL record, while Joe Flacco didn’t complete a single pass in the second and third quarters…Exhibit A why I don’t mess with single game over/unders. An expected defensive battle (the o/u was 37) that featured both quarterbacks combining for a 31.8 completion percentage while getting 4.3 YPA and producing zero touchdowns as well as two teams that combined to get 2.5 YPC with just one rushing score somehow managed to total 51 points…Shonn Greene’s YPC is all the way down to 3.1 this season, and while his 60 receiving yards is already half the total he managed all of last year, it’s hardly enough to make up for such poor running. The team plans on returning to the “ground-and-pound,” but that sounds better in theory than what may become reality, as the offensive line has really struggled, and Greene looks like a bust. In fact, Pro Football Focus has given him the worst “running” grade (-4.2) in all of the NFL over the first four games this season (followed by Reggie Bush, Rashard Mendenhall and Thomas Jones).

This NASCAR fan likes drinking, being naked and rescuing raccoons.

Curtis Painter completed just 13-of-30 passes while making his first NFL start in primetime on the road Monday night, and his numbers were boosted by a somewhat fluky play that went for 87 yards to Pierre Garcon, but it would be tough to argue he’s not an immediate upgrade over Kerry Collins. He actually made a couple of really nice throws, suffered from some drops and didn’t commit a turnover…Garcon only had two catches Monday, and you’d like to see a higher volume combined with that production, but he was Painter’s clear favorite receiver after the QB took over in Week 3, so he’s definitely back on the fantasy radar. It wouldn’t shock if he were more productive than Reggie Wayne from here on out…LeGarrette Blount is an absolute beast – call him the anti-Shonn Greene. It’s too bad he’s so terrible as a receiver, because few backs in football are as good between the tackles.

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My Awards Ballot

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

N.L. MVP

1) Matt Kemp – Close call between Kemp and Braun, with playing center field and in a tougher hitter’s park being the tiebreaker.

2) Ryan Braun – Great season. Awesome player.

3) Joey Votto – A big drop off after the top two. Could have went Justin Upton here, but Votto had the (slightly) superior season.

A.L. MVP

1) Jacoby Ellsbury – Just like the N.L., a really close call between two players. Again, I treated positional value (and in Ellsbury’s case, strong defense as well) as the difference.

2) Jose Bautista – I have no problem whatsoever if you have Bautista as your MVP. It’s very close, and anyone who says he shouldn’t win because the Blue Jays had a .500 record deserves a punch to the nuts.

3) Justin Verlander – I struggled with this spot. Curtis Granderson is certainly a viable alternative. Anyone who says pitchers shouldn’t win the MVP because they only play once every five games deserves a punch to the nuts.

N.L. Cy Young

1) Roy Halladay – Really, really close call here. I kind of want Clayton Kershaw to win, if only because I predicted he would before the season started, but Halladay’s superior 6.3 K:BB ratio while allowing fewer homers while pitching in the tougher hitter’s park gives him the ever so slight edge.

2) Clayton Kershaw – Kershaw pitches in the weaker division, but his opponents’ aggregate OPS was similar to Halladay’s, and there’s little reason at this point to call his BAA luck. His career BABIP is .273, as he’s the toughest pitcher to hit in baseball. He also won the triple crown, so don’t be surprised if he wins (I have a soft spot for him, since I bet the over on his win totals in Vegas before the year. It was 11.5!) Regardless, the improving Kershaw is certainly the favorite to win this award entering 2012.

3) Cliff Lee – Lee had a 101:13 K:BB ratio after the All-Star break. He’s hardly an unknown, but I’d still say there’s an argument Lee is the most underrated player in baseball.

A.L. Cy Young

1) Justin Verlander – While Verlander’s season was terrific, it’s been a bit overrated in the media, most likely thanks to the 24-5 record. His ERA+ is more or less right in line with all past Cy Young winners. Nevertheless, he had a great season and deserves the hardware.

2) CC Sabathia – Fangraphs WAR actually has Sabathia a fraction higher than Verlander (7.1 vs. 7.0), and while I admit the latter’s .236 BABIP was fortunate, I’m going to give him far more credit for it, especially considering the Yankees’ UZR (23.2) was way, way better than the Tigers’ (-3.7).

3) Jered Weaver – He’s the real deal, especially now locked into Angel Stadium long-term.

N.L. ROY

1) Craig Kimbrel – I’d prefer not to give this award to a reliever, but he just turned in one of the better ones in the history of baseball as a rookie.

2) Brandon Beachy – Freddie Freeman is likely to finish second, which means the Braves’ rookie class was quite impressive. Clearly, I believe Beachy was more valuable, however, as he meant more to the team’s success than a first baseman who posted a sub .800 OPS while playing poor defense.

3) Cory Luebke – Came down to Luebke or Josh Collmenter.

A.L. ROY

1) Jeremy Hellickson – While his 117:72 K:BB ratio over 189.0 innings suggests his ERA will rise in the future, should we give him full credit for posting a 2.95 ERA, or do we credit a strong Rays defense and punish him for being lucky? It’s debatable. But his main competitor (at least in my eyes) Michael Pineda also played in a terrific pitcher’s park and allowed 12 more runs in 18 fewer innings.

2) Michael Pineda – Looked dominant at times. If changeup gets better, he’s a future No. 1.

3) Eric Hosmer – Many options here. Brett Lawrie’s 2.7 WAR was second only to Pineda, which is impressive in just 150 at-bats, while Dustin Ackley, Desmond Jennings and Mark Trumbo (.291 OBP outweighs the 29 homers) are all legit candidates, Hosmer’s solid performance over (in most cases) much longer playing time gives him the edge. Fangraphs hated his defense, but first base is sketchy when it comes to UZR.

Bet On It

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 11-5, although I lost my best bet. I’m 24-22-2 after three weeks. Best bet is 1-1-1. Onto the Week 4 picks:

Lions +1.5 at COWBOYS (Best Bet)

Panthers +6.5 at BEARS

SAINTS -7 at Jaguars

TITANS pick ’em at Browns

Bills -3 at BENGALS

Vikings -1.5 at CHIEFS

49ers +10 at EAGLES

Redskins -1.5 at RAMS

STEELERS +4 at Texans

Falcons -4.5 at SEAHAWKS

GIANTS -1 at Cardinals

BRONCOS +12.5 at Packers

Patriots -4 at RAIDERS

DOLPHINS +7.5 at Chargers

JETS +3 at Ravens

COLTS +10 at Buccaneers

Comments: While most weeks I debate my best bet among a few games, I struggled coming up with a single one this week. The teaser I went with this week was Saints and Eagles.