Archive for December, 2011

Bet On It

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 9-6-1, losing my best bet. I’m 121-113-6 so far this year. Best bet is 6-9-1. Onto the Week 17 picks:

REDSKINS +9.5 at Eagles

Jets +2 at DOLPHINS

Panthers +8.5 at SAINTS

LIONS -3.5 at Packers

49ers -11 at Rams

Colts +3.5 at JAGUARS

Bills +11.5 at PATRIOTS (Best Bet)

Titans -3 at TEXANS

Bears pick ’em at VIKINGS

STEELERS -7 at Browns

Ravens -1.5 at BENGALS

BUCCANEERS +12 at Falcons

CHIEFS +3.5 at Broncos

Chargers +3 at RAIDERS

Seahawks +2.5 at CARDINALS

COWBOYS +2.5 at Giants

Comments: As usual, some quirky lines in Week 17. The Giants/Cowboys game was a true toss up for me, but I expect the Pats to roll.

The Scoop

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

As someone who had the Texans in a teaser, watching Dan Orlovsky drive 80 yards to score the game-winning touchdown in just a minute and a half was a miserable experience, although it occurred while I was at a white elephant Christmas party, where I scored a nice bottle of wine and Everclear (still afraid to even try this), so all was not lost…If that truly was Reggie Wayne’s final home game as a Colt, it was a nice way to depart…Ben Tate somehow got negative fantasy points despite not fumbling and facing an Indy defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. That’s not easy to do…Thursday’s game was the first time in NFL history a team with one win or fewer beat a team with 10 or more wins.

This luckily avoided crash was intense.

What a comeback by the Cardinals, who after trailing 23-0 with fewer than 12 minutes left should have tied the game had Early Doucet not done this…John Skelton has got 7.9 YPA with a 6:2 TD:INT ratio in fourth quarters this season. He’s recorded a 4:11 TD:INT ratio in quarters 1-3, however…Yup, this was easily one of the coolest plays I’ve ever seen.

This best of compilation of table tennis shots during 2011 is surprisingly captivating.

What a play by Victor Cruz. Pretty crazy he’s already set a franchise record for receiving yards in a season since there’s still a game left and he barely saw the field over Weeks 1 and 2 (totaled 38 snaps). Cruz could improve as a blocker, but his 16 broken tackles rank second in the NFL among WRs…Darrelle Revis absolutely owned Hakeem Nicks on Saturday. In fantasy leagues, Nicks sure picked a poor time to have his worst two games of the season…Mark Sanchez has produced 30 touchdowns this year, but his YPA has dropped for the second straight season following his rookie campaign, sitting at an ugly 6.4 in a time when passing stats are the highest in league history. His career completion percentage of 55.1 is glaring, and he’s already lost eight fumbles in 2011. It’s too early to write off the former No. 5 overall pick, but Jets fans also have every right to be concerned. Pro Football Focus ranks Sanchez 37th among 39 quarterbacks this season, and although that’s a bit misleading since it’s not a rate stat, so QBs like Tyler Palko and Curtis Painter would grade worse if they played an equal amount of time, it’s still not exactly encouraging.

This video of an encounter between humans and a group of wild mountain gorillas is actually pretty engaging.

Jared Cook has racked up 17 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown over the past two games, so everyone’s favorite preseason sleeper is waking up late in the year. He’s seen 581 snaps this season, which ranks 30th among all tight ends, yet his eight broken tackles rank eighth at the position, which reveals plenty of upside moving forward, assuming he’s given more of an opportunity. Cook is physically gifted and entering his fourth year in the league, so he’s a major candidate to break out in 2012…In a forgettable season, at least Jacksonville managed a backdoor cover last week.

This Golden Retriever loves the guitar.

With less than one minute left in the first half Saturday, Tom Brady had taken as many sacks (three) as he had completions. Still, even in what looked like a sure down fantasy day, he somehow managed to rush for two touchdowns (to go along with 300-plus yards and another score through the air). The Pats’ 17-0 halftime deficit sure disappeared fast…Matt Moore has an 11:2 TD:INT ratio over his past six games. Over his last eight contests, he’s also got 8.3 YPA. He should absolutely be given every opportunity to be the team’s starter in 2012.

This kitten gets thrown violently down a loft ladder.

After a breakout season ended in a fizzle last year, Peyton Hillis has decided to do the opposite in 2011, as he’s finishing strong, totaling 220 yards over the past two games, including getting 4.7 YPC last week in Baltimore…Saturday’s game ended with the Ravens drawing the Browns off sides. Well played Cleveland…It’s a big game in Cincinnati this week, with huge ramifications for both teams.

This TV weatherman throws a fit and walks off. Gets abused afterward.

A terrific fake field goal that resulted in a 37-yard touchdown was negated by a delay of game penalty by the Raiders, which looked even worse after Sebastian Janikowski was pushed back five more yards and subsequently missed a 59-yard attempt. Considering Richard Seymour also blocked two field goals and the game ended in overtime on a kick, the FG units had an especially important impact Saturday…What a play in overtime by Carson Palmer and Darrius Heyward-Bey, connecting on a 53-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage, effectively ending the game…Kyle Orton versus Denver, with the Broncos’ playoff hopes on the line. Should be good stuff this week.

The 10 most insane delusions (this is leaving out a few huge embellishments, mind you) regarding Kim Jong-iL.

Joe Webb somehow produced three touchdowns while attempting just five passes in relief last week and has created a quarterback controversy in Minnesota. At minimum, the 25-year-old sure is a nice insurance policy as a backup, as Webb is the fastest quarterback in the league and also has a 103.7 QB rating this season…What a devastating injury to Adrian Peterson. Just awful, in a meaningless game no less (when he in no way had to be playing while at less than 100 percent). I can’t see him going before the third round in fantasy drafts next year, and maybe that’s optimistic…I felt pretty good facing Jabar Gaffney in the finals of my home league this week, until he caught four balls over a five play stretch in the third quarter, including a one-handed grab in the end zone. Seriously, what the hell?…In that same league, I added Evan Royster on Saturday morning after news broke Roy Helu would be inactive, and while I had a somewhat shaky flex option (Vincent Jackson), I couldn’t pull the trigger inserting him into my starting lineup, mainly because of Mike Shanahan. Well, Royster highly impressed, totaling 147 yards on just 21 touches against a solid Vikings’ run defense. He got 3.6 YPC after contact, and to put that into perspective, only two running backs have got better over the course of this season (Darren Sproles and Fred Jackson). For all that has gone wrong in Washington in 2011, at least it looks like their backfield will be strong with Helu and Royster (young and cheap too) entering next season, although it will likely result in a headache for fantasy owners…The Vikings recorded their first interception in 10 games last week…Although it almost paid off, it was curious to see the Redskins not attempt an onside kick down seven points with 1:25 left.

The most horrifying joke in sitcom history (actually it’s a close call between another Mr. Belvedere clip I posted a couple of weeks back).

I’m beginning to think the Buccaneers have given up this year…Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams have combined for 2,139 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns this season, getting 5.3 YPC in the process…LeGarrette Blount was benched, seeing a total of just seven more snaps, after fumbling on the first play of Saturday’s game (it was officially credited to Josh Freeman), as he continues to be a huge disappointment in the little aspects of playing the running back position. Blount is tough to trust, especially playing for a bad team usually playing from behind, since he continues to be useless on passing downs. He’s totaled 21 yards or fewer in three of his past four games.

Here’s a pretty big NBA referee fail.

Well, that wasn’t the best game by the “Mile high Messiah.” Tim Tebow took the jokes that every one of his passes was a “Hail Mary” a bit too literal Saturday, as some of his were a bit off the mark, even throwing pick-sixes on back-to-back plays…It’s also worth noting just how much Denver’s defense has taken a step back ever since Von Miller suffered his thumb injury…Despite being easily one of the five best fantasy backs this year, Fred Jackson will be coming off a serious injury and entering the season at age 31.5 next year, so with C.J. Spiller’s emergence, he’ll be one of the trickiest guys to rank in 2012…How does Denver punt down 12 points with 12:22 to play from the Buffalo 41-yard line? At least they got a 24-yard net.

Man poses with cash he stole on Facebook, which helps lead to his arrest.

Rashard Mendenhall owners can’t exactly complain, but considering both Isaac Redman and John Clay (on his first career rush attempt) scored touchdowns, they do have a reasonable gripe…Although I admittedly predicted six points from the Rams in my “Game Caps” column, that might have been the most predictable shutout in recent memory…I can’t say I’d blame the Rams if they truly “clean house” with the coaching staff after the season as rumored. Jon Gruden would be an interesting choice, as he’s certainly a better coach than analyst.

This catch was pretty legit.

If the Chargers weren’t going to make the playoffs regardless, Saturday’s embarrassing blowout loss might be a blessing in disguise, as Norv Turner needs to go. I get that Mike Tolbert is bigger, but it’s inexcusable to take the far superior player Ryan Mathews out of the game twice inside the 10-yard line during drives last week. It wasn’t exactly shocking to see the results be a field goal and a turnover on downs, as typically you lower your chances of succeeding when you relegate your better personnel to watching on the sidelines. Oh well, San Diego’s season was only on the line. Good riddance Norv, it sure was impressive to see you last this long (what will he do with the compromising Polaroids he must have of Spanos?)…This Detroit team is dangerous, and I’d consider them major sleepers to come out of the AFC. Too bad they play in the more loaded NFC and will have to immediately go on the road…Matthew Stafford has a 9:0 TD:INT ratio over the past three games, and while that’s come against admittedly weak competition, he’s undeniably played extremely well. His 7.5 season YPA isn’t off the charts, and having Calvin Johnson is the single biggest advantage a quarterback can have right now in the NFL, but Stafford is on pace to finish the season with 4,819 passing yards and 38.5 touchdowns while also limiting turnovers. Most importantly, he’s stayed healthy, and remember he’s started just 28 games in a career that’s really just beginning. Stafford has shown a willingness to remain tough in the pocket and might have the strongest arm in all of football, and he’s came correct for fantasy owners, throwing for 764 yards with seven touchdowns over Weeks 15 and 16.

Human feces used as fertilizer has neighbors fuming.

Well, that was a brutal blow for owners relying on Tony Romo in Week 16. It also didn’t help any of his receivers (or Dan Bailey, for that matter), and while Felix Jones owners can’t complain since that was a known risk should the Giants win their earlier game, I doubt Romo would have sat much had he not got injured. What a terrible way to finish the fantasy season. That said, he should be healthy this week, and Sunday night’s game should be good…Here is an actual quote from Troy Aikman while announcing Saturday’s game: “DeSean Jackson is fearless going over the middle.” Good stuff. And by that I mean the opposite.

Oldie but goodie, Lou Holtz is the man!

Huge win for the 49ers, but I can’t think of a tougher opponent for a No. 2 seed (assuming they win in St. Louis on Sunday, which is obviously far from a sure thing), than the Saints. New Orleans might be the best team in football. Has a No. 2 seed ever been an underdog during their first game (obviously at home)?…Crazy to see Marshawn Lynch both rush for a touchdown and break the 100-yard mark and yet the Seahawks still lose. I expected either Seattle would break the mark and win, or vice versa. So goes football…Braylon Edwards’ tenure in SF was pretty epic…David Akers broke the NFL record with his 42nd made field goal, and it can’t be often a kicker has more FGs than extra points in a season…Tarell Brown’s attempt to tackle Doug Baldwin on his touchdown catch was one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever seen. He made Roger Dorn look courageous.

Drew Brees has had a fantastic season, but Aaron Rodgers is the MVP…In comparison to Caleb Hanie, Josh McCown looked like Joe Montana…With a 13.5 point spread, it warmed my cockles during the holiday season to see Lovie Smith elect to kick a field goal down 17 points with 1:11 left Sunday night…Kahlil Bell racked up 159 yards on 27 touches Sunday, and he was highly impressive while doing so, exhibiting great patience and a strong ability to hit the hole. The undrafted back has gained 4.9 YPC during his brief career and has totaled 14 catches for 105 yards receiving over the past three games, and he was the feature back in just one of those contests. Bell forced a whopping five broken tackles against the Packers and has suddenly given Chicago a reason not to overpay Matt Forte during the offseason.

In case you missed last week’s article, let me once again reiterate, this guy was in our tailgate party!

I entered Monday night with a 42-point lead in my home league but facing Drew Brees, Marques Colston and Matt Bryant, and the outcome was predictably torturous. Seriously, how good is Brees?!…Also, who cares that the Saints tried to get Brees the all-time passing yards record during garbage time? That’s all well and good the Falcons are pissed and will “remember” it next time they play (which looks like a real good chance in round one of the playoffs), but ultimately that won’t matter when they get boat raced again…Michael Turner has ran for 280 yards over his past five games, getting 3.3 YPC with just one touchdown. He actually leads the NFL with 53 broken tackles this season, and he even hauled in four receptions for 36 yards last week, so maybe it’s premature to totally write him off, but Turner will be on the wrong side of 30 entering 2012 and has shown real signs of decline recently. He would be an awfully risky first round fantasy pick next year.

Follow me on Twitter.

Bet On It

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 11-5, winning my best bet. I’m 112-107-5 so far this year. Best bet is 6-8-1. Onto the Week 16 picks:

TEXANS (Best Bet) -5.5 at Colts

Dolphins +10 at PATRIOTS

BROWNS +13.5 at Ravens

CARDINALS +4 at Bengals

VIKINGS +6.5 at Redskins

BRONCOS -1.5 at Bills

Rams +16 at STEELERS

GIANTS +2.5 at Jets

BUCCANEERS +8.5 at Panthers

JAGUARS +8 at Titans

RAIDERS +.5 at Chiefs

Chargers +1.5 at LIONS

Eagles +1 at COWBOYS

49ers -2 at SEAHAWKS

Bears +13.5 at PACKERS

Falcons +7 at SAINTS

Comments: The loss of DC Wade Phillips on the sideline proved drastic last week, but this seems like a good time to buy Houston low and sell Indy high. (Editor’s note: Dumb!)

The Scoop

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

What an abysmal offensive performance by Jacksonville on Thursday night. At one point in the third quarter, Maurice Jones-Drew had 20-plus more total yards than the Jaguars had net as a team…Let’s just hope this season is a lesson to the NFL when it comes to picking primetime games. Using Vegas over/unders would be an obvious solution…After recording a 137.3 QB rating in a near flawless performance last week, Matt Ryan has a 17:4 TD:INT ratio over the past seven games, taking just eight sacks over that span. He continues to play better at home, but he’s hiked his YPA up, and while the Falcons are rightfully underdogs Monday night, the over/under is 52.5, so it should be a high-scoring affair that requires a lot of passes from Ryan. Meanwhile, Roddy White has 38 catches for 537 yards and five touchdowns over the past five games, as there isn’t a hotter receiver in the league.

FedEx guy throwing and breaking a computer monitor.

Down 28-0 at halftime last week to the Cowboys, it sure appears like the Bucs have quit on this season…LeGarrette Blount has got 21 total yards or fewer in two of the past three games, as he’s really suffered from Tampa Bay’s downfall, as few backs rely more on game situations since he’s removed from all passing downs. He’s also fumbled four times (losing three) over the past four contests and is tied among all running backs with the most penalties committed in 2011. He remains a tackle-breaking machine in the open field, but Blount must improve his overall game to enter the fantasy elite…Mike Williams was held without a catch in Week 15, coming up small during a big fantasy time. He’s yet to reach 100 yards in a game this season and has scored just three touchdowns after reaching the end zone 11 times as a rookie last year. Williams’ eight dropped passes are tied for the eighth-most among wide receivers, and he’s also committed a whopping six penalties on the year. He’s certainly been hurt by Josh Freeman’s regression in 2011, but Williams has struggled to gain separation, and he’s a risky fantasy start in Week 16, even against a Carolina defense that has allowed an NFL-high 8.3 YPA this season.

Man eats cocaine from brother’s butt, dies.

At just 6.5 points, I found the Texans line to be fishy last week (that means it would have been essentially a pick ‘em if the game was in Carolina). After all, Houston entered 10-3 fighting for the AFC’s top seed, whereas the Panthers came in 4-9 with possibly the NFL’s worst defense. The latter has exciting skill position players, while the former was hit hard by injuries, but the spread nevertheless seemed curious. So naturally, the Panthers entered halftime with a 21-0 lead (and yes, I lost a teaser because of this)…T.J. Yates was pretty awful Sunday. He’s been a serviceable replacement for the most part, but don’t let it fool you, Houston’s Super Bowl hopes ended with Matt Schaub’s injury.

African Bull Frog ant crusher (stay till the end).

Reggie Bush was given 25 carries in a game Sunday for the first time in his career, and the result was 203 rushing yards (8.1 YPC). He’s now ran for at least 100 yards in three straight games and has six touchdowns over his past seven contests. Despite not getting 15 rushing attempts in a game until Week 8 this season, Bush is on pace to finish with 1,421 yards from scrimmage. Pro Football Focus rates Bush as the second worst blocker among all running backs in the league this year, but he’s clearly improved greatly as a runner inside the tackles, and who would have thought he’d excel by getting away from turf and onto grass. I must say I didn’t see this coming…Speaking of running back performances from the dead, C.J. Spiller totaled 164 yards on just 22 touches in Week 15, including nine receptions. He also added two touchdowns, doubling his season total in the process. He’s up to 5.0 YPC on the year and suddenly looks like an excellent start in PPR leagues as the team’s new feature back. Things will get clouded next year once Fred Jackson returns to Buffalo’s backfield, but Spiller has got 3.0 YPC after contact this season, which is tied for eighth-best among running backs. Good thing I dropped him earlier this year in my home league.

This runaway cart did quite a bit of damage.

I’m not saying the Titans’ decision to start Matt Hasselbeck cost them a chance at making the playoffs, but it certainly didn’t help. Hasselbeck has produced one touchdown over his past five games. Jake Locker has produced five touchdowns over his past three games, all in relief duty…Funny the NFL’s lone winless team won while the league’s only undefeated team lost Sunday…Donald Brown ran for a career-high 161 yards last week, thanks largely to a sick 80-yard touchdown run in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. The play highlighted Brown’s breakaway speed, as he got to the corner and never looked back. Brown entered the year averaging just 3.8 YPC over the first two seasons of his career, but he’s all the way up to 5.1 in 2011. His 3.2 YPC after contact is tied for fourth among all backs in football. Still just 24 years old, Brown might have quietly emerged as Indy’s feature back of the future in an otherwise lost year for the franchise…When the Colts went up 3-0, it was the first time they led in nine games (tying an NFL record).

This own goal is pretty legit.

Kellen Clemens’ 95.7 QB rating was the best he’s posted in a game during his career, which isn’t bad considering he was facing a solid defense and just signed with the Rams last week. Still, he’s facing a tough task in Pittsburgh this week facing an angry Steelers defense…A.J. Green showed a lot of heart playing through a painful shoulder injury…As someone who started the Bengals defense, it was painful to watch them turn to prevent and allow a 70-yard TD drive in the final two minutes of Sunday’s game.

This person freaks out whenever he sees an El Camino. He must hate the new Black Keys album.

As someone who was facing the Seahawks’ D this week, it wouldn’t be an unfair statement to call Caleb Hanie my least favorite human being right now (this gives a little bit of insight into my perspective in life). While most teams (like the Rams) gain garbage yards and points against prevent defenses down big late in games, Hanie was preoccupied taking sacks and throwing interceptions, including his second pick-six of the game. Hanie has now thrown three interceptions during three of his four games played this year. I’m beginning to think he’s a downgrade from Jay Cutler…Marshawn Lynch has now scored in 10 straight contests, totaling 12 over that span. It’s the unstoppable force versus the immovable object this week, as the 49ers continue to vie to be the only team in NFL history to not allow a single rushing score in a season.

Here’s a 59-year-old winning a truck with a ridiculous hockey shot.

Pretty crazy that Percy Harvin went back to disappearing once Adrian Peterson returned to the lineup. I can’t figure out that correlation (causation?)…Drew Brees now has a 16:0 TD:INT ratio over the past five games.

Green Bay hadn’t trailed during the fourth quarter of a game since December 10, 2010 before Sunday’s loss…With no Greg Jennings, it was a massive disappointment (and surprise) to see Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Donald Driver total six catches for 53 yards…How bad must Todd Haley feel right about now?

Here’s a funny video of kids reacting to their parents giving terrible Christmas gifts (be sure to stay till the end).

Not only did Hakeem Nicks drop a wide open sure to be 60-yard touchdown that hit him in the face mask, he had another ball slip through his hands in the end zone and yet another TD catch called back on a holding penalty. Needless to say, it was a frustrating game to watch as a fantasy owner. Nicks will have a tough time redeeming himself in the fantasy Super Bowl with a matchup against Darrelle Revis this week…So if the Giants beat the Jets on Sunday, the afternoon game between the Eagles and Cowboys becomes totally meaningless. That’s at least something to keep in mind, although I probably wouldn’t change any lineup decisions as a result, with the possible exception of Felix Jones being less likely to play.

Extreme high-lining.

It’s been an up-and-down year for Darrius Heyward-Bey, who averaged 96.3 receiving yards over a four-game stretch from Weeks 4-7, only to average just 21.6 receiving yards over the next five contests. He mysteriously disappeared from the game plan coming off the team’s Week 8 bye and clearly struggled to develop a rapport with new quarterback Carson Palmer. DHB also got banged up physically. With the rest of Oakland’s receiving corps ravaged by injuries, and Heyward-Bey back to health, the third-year wideout has racked up 13 catches for 233 yards over the past two contests, and he’s scored twice over the past three games. Heyward-Bey has been targeted 36 times over the past month, so he’s firmly back on the fantasy radar…What a performance by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. As a Stafford owner who needed big points in the afternoon games, that 98-yard TD drive at the end was a beautiful thing to watch, nearly bringing tears to my eyes…Hue Jackson not going for two with the score 26-14 with 7:47 has now moved into first place as the single dumbest coaching decision of the year (this is not a hindsight thing, I was going absolutely crazy at the time). He really thought it was more likely Detroit would score three more times with that little time left than two touchdowns? It really was poetic justice that Oakland ended up losing by the one point.

Notorious Siri.

It’s entirely possible Seneca Wallace is an upgrade over Colt McCoy. Wallace now has a 30:16 TD:INT ratio over his career…Almost every single one of Beanie Wells’ 10 touchdowns this season have come on runs to the left…The Cardinals are somehow 6-1 over their past seven games. Both they and the Seahawks have shown real improvement over the second half of the season.

These parents are ruthless.

I like how Vince Young finished Sunday’s blowout victory 0-for-0 with three sacks…LeSean McCoy is now up to 20 touchdowns on the year. He’ll have a strong case to be the No. 1 overall player taken at fantasy drafts in 2012…With the Jets’ season on the line, the battle in the Meadowlands on Sunday should be a good one.

This TV channel dedicated to watching rotisserie chicken looks fascinating.

The Broncos ran for 167 yards in the first quarter last week, but what a terrific performance by Tom Brady. Tim Tebow played well and continues to improve as a passer, but it’s tough to overcome three lost fumbles while facing New England’s offense…Aaron Hernandez caught nine balls on 11 targets for 129 yards and a score Sunday. Brady missed him while wide open that would have resulted in a long touchdown, he had another play in the end zone that could have easily been ruled a catch (still not sure why Bill Belichick didn’t even challenge it), and he was tackled inside the one-yard line as well, so Hernandez could have had a truly monstrous day. He’s been overshadowed by teammate Rob Gronkowski, but Hernandez has been playing hobbled and with a knee brace for most of the season, yet is still on pace to finish with 844 receiving yards over 14 games played. He’s also been targeted 21 times inside the red zone, and there’s no reason to think two tight ends can’t be plenty productive in New England’s passing attack, as he’s typically split wide anyway. Hernandez leads all tight ends with 21 broken tackles this season. To put that in perspective, no other tight end in the NFL has broken more than 10 this year. I’ll have him ranked third on my TE board entering 2012.

Presenting the 2011 Mug Shots of the Year.

It was nice to see Ryan Mathews get some goal-line carries, and he executed them well, getting to the outside with speed and looking a whole lot like LaDainian Tomlinson later jumping over the pile from three yards out. He entered the game with the worst career fumble/carry rate among all running backs in football, and he put another on the carpet Sunday night, but only health can prevent him from being a top-15 fantasy pick next year…Anquan Boldin will soon have surgery to repair a slight tear in his meniscus and is expected to be sidelined for the next two weeks, which means he should be back for the playoffs, but his regular season is finished. Boldin averaged more yards per game during his second year in Baltimore (63.4) this season than his first (52.3), but his touchdowns dropped from seven to three. He’ll be 32 years old entering 2012 and has taken a lot of hits throughout his career, so his fantasy stock continues to fall.

Metta World Peace is just as insane as Ron Artest.

It’s funny how people questioned whether Ben Roethlisberger was going to play Monday night, although to be fair, he was clearly hobbled, and at this point, it makes some sense for him to rest this week in a game they are heavily favored at home versus the Rams (it’s also an extremely short turnaround)…I was at Monday night’s game, and while the atmosphere was definitely electric, man do Steeler fans travel well. There were quite a few terrible towels…We started the tailgate early, which was a lot of fun, but then someone from our crew ultimately decided to do this. Two power outages, a bomb threat and a guy from our tailgate party getting arrested. Good times!

Follow me on Twitter.

Bet On It

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 7-9, losing my best by a half point. I’m 101-102-5 so far this year. Best bet is 5-8-1. Onto the Week 15 picks:

JAGUARS +12 at Falcons

COWBOYS -7 at Buccaneers

BENGALS -6.5 at Rams

DOLPHINS pick ’em at Bills

REDSKINS +7 at Giants

TITANS -7 at Colts

SEAHAWKS +3.5 at Bears

Packers -14.5 at CHIEFS

Panthers +6.5 at TEXANS

Saints -7 at VIKINGS

LIONS -0.5 at Raiders

BROWNS +7 at Cardinals

JETS +2 at Eagles

PATRIOTS -7 at Broncos

Ravens -2 at CHARGERS

Steelers +2.5 at 49ers (Best Bet)

Comments: Picking this slate easily took me the most time of any this year. That reflects its difficulty more than any anticipated success on my part. I fully expect Big Ben to play, so we’ll find out if SF is a fraud.

The Scoop

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

For a 14-3 final score, Thursday’s Steelers/Browns game was actually pretty watchable…Maybe leading the NFL in touches last season has had something to do with it, but Rashard Mendenhall just hasn’t looked great running the ball this year. In fact, his 2.2 YPC after contact ranks 52nd among running backs. He’ll probably reach double-digit touchdowns for the second straight season, but because he also offers next to nothing as a receiver, I can’t recommend him as a top-20 pick in 2012…What a horrible fourth quarter drop by Greg Little…What’s less likely to stop Ben Roethlisberger – an injury or the word “no?” Seriously, that ankle sprain looked brutal, but at this point, it should have come as no surprise he was able to shake it off and return for the second half. I love how there are still some people actually questioning whether he’ll play Monday night…What a brutal hit by James Harrison on Colt McCoy. It’s a joke Cleveland didn’t even check him for a concussion and let him return to the game. McCoy’s ensuing interception probably shouldn’t be blamed on him, since he was black out.

Local news is the best.

Rob Gronkowski has 11 touchdowns over his past six games and at times looks unstoppable, like during his ridiculous 37-yard TD grab Sunday. If you were guaranteed his 2011 stats next year, he’d easily be the No. 1 overall pick at fantasy drafts…My wife wanted to play Doug Baldwin over BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but I told her not to. It was the difference between her losing and winning her playoff game, and she’s seriously pissed. The Law Firm needs to file for bankruptcy – he’s done…It was nice to see a 49-yard touchdown catch by Santana Moss, but realize it came on a trick play with WR Brandon Banks throwing to him. Moss has another favorable matchup Sunday, but he hadn’t reached 8.5 yards-per-catch in a game previously since Week 6…That’s three straight games Roy Helu has got 100 yards rushing, totaling 436 yards over that span. Maybe he wasn’t ready for every down work earlier on like the coaches insisted, but the more likely scenario is they once again misevaluated their own talent.

This anchor doesn’t exactly seem sober. Again, local news is the best.

Jake Locker sure has impressed whenever given the chance this season. The sample is tiny, and outcomes are often different when defenses have time to prepare for the opposing starter, but he’s highly intriguing, exhibiting good arm strength and even better athleticism. Of course the stellar 8.7 YPA has also come with a 46.0 completion percentage, so accuracy remains his biggest issue. Still, I must say, this rookie QB class in general has performed far better than I expected…Considering upcoming schedules (and the fact they are also just plain better), the Saints are now favorites to finish as the No. 2 seed in the NFC over my beloved 49ers. I guess that means SF at least has a better chance of winning its lone home playoff game I’ll go to…I’m finished trying to analyze Chris Johnson this season, but at least he chipped in as a receiver during his second game in four weeks he produced fewer than 25 rushing yards.

Gordon Ramsay tells you how to treat a lady.

Funny the biggest worry about LeSean McCoy entering the year was a possible lack of touchdowns, since he saw just six goal-line carries last season, as he currently leads the NFL with 17 scores…Brandon Marshall owners better hope Matt Moore doesn’t miss any more time with his injury, because J.P. Losman will likely be a significant downgrade…While Michael Vick’s injury concerns proved true in 2011, his performance while on the field has to be equally as worrisome. While his INT% predictably increased, it’s done so markedly, and his completion%, TD% and YPA are all way down. And after rushing for nine touchdowns last season, he’s recorded zero this year. Vick will likely be ranked behind Rodgers, Newton, Brady and Brees on almost all draft boards entering 2012.

This is awesome: “Pulp Fiction” in chronological order.

Michael Turner looks clearly slowed by his groin injury, so it’s been a perfect time for Atlanta’s passing attack to pick things up. Matt Ryan has thrown 14 touchdowns over the past six games, and not only does Julio Jones appear back to full strength if Sunday was any indication, Roddy White has racked up 28 catches for 402 yards with three scores over the past four contests as well…Choosing between DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart appears to be a weekly venture not worth guessing.

Parallel parking like a boss.

Maurice Jones-Drew has racked up a whopping 745 yards from scrimmage over the past five games. He’s also scored seven touchdowns over that span, including four during the most important week yet of the fantasy season. And after gaining just 85 receiving yards over the first eight games, he’s suddenly on pace to finish the year with 428, which would be his most since 2008. All while playing for one of the five worst offenses in football. Impressive stuff…Looking ahead to their schedule, it’s a safe bet the Bucs finish the year on a 10-game losing streak…After having failed to score more than 20 points in a single game this season, Jacksonville scored 28 points over the final 7:36 in the second quarter alone Sunday.

Seriously, how good is Jon “Bones” Jones?!! After taking the biggest punch he has in his career Saturday night, he shook it off and delivered a blow so strong to Lyoto Machida that referee John McCarthy called the doctor to see if he was fit to continue, and while he was, Jones later ended the fight in the same round with a standing guillotine choke that made Machida unconscious – it was the first time he had ever been submitted, and he went nighty night. Jones is coming off possibly the most impressive fighting calendar year in the history of MMA, winning four fights against all top competition. Jones’ only loss of his career came on a disqualification (illegal elbows) in a fight he was absolutely killing Matt Hamill. He’s now going to take a much deserved respite, and fighting fans can only hope Manny Pacquiao mans up and accepts a match against Floyd Mayweather (unlikely).

Sticking with MMA, this one-armed fighter is the man.

Not only did T.J. Yates’ touchdown pass with two seconds left win the game for Houston by one point Sunday, it also changed the outcome both ATS and the over/under…Tough loss for the Bengals, who could easily win their final three games this season and have finished with 11 wins…Arian Foster owners shouldn’t worry too much about Sunday’s performance (assuming it didn’t contribute to knocking you out of your playoffs, of course), as he should bounce back in a big way in Week 15 at home against a Carolina defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

I’m a fan of “Sons Of Anarchy” in general, but I couldn’t agree with Alan Sepinwall’s review of this season any more.

For a game that was 21-0 nine minutes in, the Detroit/Minnesota contest was awfully close, with the former not covering and needing a stop at the 1-yard line (with the help of a face mask) during the last play of the game…Not sure why the Vikings started a clearly injured Christian Ponder in a lost season to begin with, but man is Joe Webb fast…It’s pretty crazy how much a team misses Kevin Smith…There might not be a hotter receiver in the league than Percy Harvin, who’s finally living up to the hype. If he proves he can be somewhat as productive once Adrian Peterson returns to the lineup, he’ll enter 2012 as a top-15 fantasy WR.

Speaking of reviews, my early one for the new “Black Keys” album is positive, but I’m not sure they are capable of making bad music, so it’s not exactly shocking.

The Jets outgained the Chiefs 253-4 yards at halftime Sunday. That’s right, four yards. The only thing more laughable than that in Week 14 came in the same game, when the Chiefs attempted an onside kick that didn’t even go four yards…I’m beginning to think Tyler Palko isn’t KC’s long-term answer at the quarterback position…Shonn Greene’s 187 yards from scrimmage marked a career-high, and after totaling just 16 receptions over the first 29 games of his career, he’s recorded nine over his past three contests, going for 96 yards. That latest development would be big news for his fantasy value if it’s a sign of things to come, which isn’t implausible with LaDainian Tomlinson’s career winding down.

What a ridiculous backdoor cover by the Colts on literally the final play of the game. The Ravens’ 7-0 record at home this season is the best in the NFL (of course, the Packers and Saints are both 6-0)…I’m not wasting any more calories talking about this dreadful Colts game, so let me talk about me recently spending Friday-Monday at a bachelor party in Reno. I’m about to turn 30, but apparently I’m already slower to recover than back in the day, as I’m still hurting. Of course, I treated my body like a sewer for a 60-hour stretch, so I have no one to blame but myself. I’m a big fan of going to a sportsbook during March Madness, but Sundays during the NFL season are pretty awesome as well.

Speaking of backdoors, I’ll challenge anyone to find a better fart than this.

Seriously, how many more times can the Denver Tebows do this? Down 10 points with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter with no timeouts left? Of course the Broncos still win. No problem. As someone who had them in a parlay on the money line, I’m embarrassed for ever questioning the ultimate outcome, no matter how bleak it looked. What was Marion Barber thinking running out of bounds? Chicago definitely should have just kneeled. Game over. And then the fumble, poor Barber. What crazy clutch kicking by Matt Prater…Demayrius Thomas dropped another backbreaking pass Sunday, this one a would-be sure 55-yard touchdown early in the third quarter…Tebow has attempted just 10 passes when playing with the lead this season. He’s completed three of them. That’s pretty insane.

While there may be some ugly rumors Tim Tebow contributed to the end of Lindsey Vonn’s marriage, I’d like to think his pious reputation is made clear by this image in which he’s completely ignoring two bikini clad coeds.

After the 49ers were denied a first down that was picked up during a fake field goal attempt thanks to a “malfunction” in Arizona’s stadium regarding the replay system, David Akers missed a field goal (one of five he attempted in the first half). The following play was a 60-yard TD pass by the Cardinals. That’s a turn of events if I’ve ever seen one right there. That touchdown was actually the first San Francisco has allowed in a first half in the last seven games…The 49ers’ red-zone offense is the worst in the league and has been a huge problem this season…The Cardinals are now 5-1 over their past six games, and their defense is actually a sneaky fantasy start in Week 15 at home against the Browns.

What is David Stern thinking with the handling of the Chris Paul trade situations? Especially after the recent botching during the lockout, this looks really bad, to say the least. The NBA has a lot of making up to do, that’s for sure.

My friend placed a sizable bet on the Chargers/Bills over/under, which was 48 points. The total came in at 47, with not a single point coming over the game’s final nine minutes. Oh, and there was also a missed extra point. That’s a bad beat. Although I guess in a way he was lucky it was even close considering the Bills’ offense produced three points, unless you count a pick-six the other way…Philip Rivers is now 22-2 as a starter during his career in December…Ryan Mathews had two 100-yard rushing games over his first 21 career games, and he now has three in his last three contests. He’s looked really good while doing so, getting 6.6 YPC over that span. If he stays healthy over the final three games of the season (admittedly a big if), Mathews will be a top-15 pick in most fantasy drafts next year.

Halfway through the second quarter Sunday, the Packers led 31-0. That’s fairly impressive…Ryan Grant entered having not scored a touchdown since 2009, but he got 8.5 YPC and hit pay dirt twice, although he wasn’t likely in many fantasy lineups, even with James Starks inactive. Oakland’s rush defense is apparently that bad (its 5.2 YPC allowed this season is an NFL-worst). Grant still only saw 10 carries in the blowout, so in yet another enticing matchup in Week 15 in a game Green Bay is favored by more than two touchdowns, he’s a risky fantasy start…With Greg Jennings (knee) out, Jermichael Finley, Jordy Nelson and James Jones’ value all increase…Carson Palmer would be on pace to throw 32 interceptions over a full season this year. That would tie for the most since the merger.

I remember being a fan of “Mr. Belvedere” as a kid, but this joke doesn’t exactly pass the test of time.

The Giants/Cowboys game was easily one of the best of the year, with eight lead changes and a team coming back from a 12-point deficit with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Both quarterbacks played extremely well in the shootout, and while the defenses are partially to be blamed, these two signal callers deserve far more credit. Tony Romo’s ability to extend plays is amazing, and while he’s been getting killed for the overthrow to Miles Austin that would have won the game late, Austin wasn’t THAT wide open when a rushed Romo released the ball…And as for Eli Manning, he’s officially one of the most clutch players in the NFL of my generation. He tied the NFL record with his 14th TD pass in the fourth quarter in a season Sunday night – and he still has three games left to play this year. He also once again dealt with some egregious drops…Really tough break for DeMarco Murray owners (no pun intended). He was back being productive on a per play basis with his FB Tony Fiammetta returning too. Felix Jones benefits greatly as a result…While his snaps and targets were down, I sure feel stupid for calling Laurent Robinson a risky fantasy start with Miles Austin back in the fold…Jason Pierre-Paul is just scratching the surface, and we could be looking at a future Hall of Famer. He’s been that impressive…The Cowboys have lost three games when leading by 12-plus points in the fourth quarter this season – more than the franchise had previously lost in the past 50 years combined.

iPhone records a granny shooting her son-in-law.

Not surprisingly, Monday night’s game was pretty terrible, although with plenty of fantasy implications still on the line, it was still worth watching for many. I get Sam Bradford was playing hurt, and he was probably the team’s best option even at less than 100 percent with newly signed Kellen Clemens apparently the next best option, but man was he bad. The Rams are likely to have a top-three draft pick next year, and they have a very interesting decision to make with some extremely intriguing QB options available. I actually think they should draft one, but I doubt they do so…If you read my earlier comments, you’ll know what I mean when I say Doug Baldwin is going to put me in a “slump” for the near future. “Near” might be a best-case scenario actually…Marshawn Lynch has now scored in nine straight games with a total of 10 over that span. While his season YPC mark of 4.3 is far from overwhelming, he’s also eclipsed 100 yards rushing in five of his past six games and has broken 39 tackles on the year, which is tied for the third-most among running backs. His punishing style may eventually catch up to him, but at age 25, he’s going to be a top-15 fantasy pick next year barring a disastrous finish. I didn’t see it coming, that’s for sure.

Follow me on Twitter.

Bet On It

Friday, December 9th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 10-6, winning my best. I’m 94-93-5 so far this year. Best bet is 5-7-1. Onto the Week 14 picks:

BROWNS +14 at Steelers

Buccaneers -1 at JAGUARS

PATRIOTS -8.5 at Redskins

TEXANS +2 at Bengals

Chiefs +9.5 at JETS

Vikings +7 at LIONS

Saints -3.5 at TITANS

Eagles +3 at DOLPHINS

Colts +16.5 at RAVENS

Falcons -3 at PANTHERS

Bears +3.5 at BRONCOS (Best Bet)

49ers -3.5 at Cardinals

Bills +7 at CHARGERS

RAIDERS +11.5 at Packers

GIANTS +3 at Cowboys

Rams +5.5 at SEAHAWKS

Comments: No “best bet” jumped out at me this week, so when in doubt, go with Tim Tebow.

The Scoop

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

That was one of the more pathetic displays of tackling by the Eagles I’ve seen in a long time. Normally I don’t question such things with pro athletes, but it sure seemed like Philadelphia checked out during that embarrassing loss Thursday…Pro Football Focus ranks Nnamdi Asomugha as the 100th cornerback this season, as in 99 are rated higher. He hasn’t exactly been an ideal fit in Philly…Marshawn Lynch has now scored in eight straight games and has eclipsed 100 rushing yards in four of his past five contests. His 15-yard TD run in the first quarter, when he looked stopped dead to rights, was especially impressive. For someone who apparently thrives in primetime, Lynch has another plus matchup at home against the Rams on Monday night.

The performance by these guys for this Indian talent show, which includes but not limited to eating fluorescent light bulbs and getting ran over by a car and a motorcycle at the same time, needs to be seen to be believed, but my favorite part is the terrified reaction by the female judge in this epic video.

With the score just 3-3 into the second quarter, those who had the Colts +21 points ATS had to feel pretty good. With the score 31-3 midway through the third quarter, Pats backers had to feel the same way, so it was a pretty crazy back-and-forth game, at least from a betting standpoint, especially considering the final score later became 31-24…Most of the scoring came in garbage time against a New England defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, but Dan Orlovsky appeared to be an upgrade over Curtis Painter. Sunday’s 24 points scored tied a season-high for the Colts…Selectively choosing, Pierre Garcon has totaled 421 receiving yards with six touchdowns over three games this season. In his other nine games, he’s totaled 384 yards with zero scores. He’s making Vincent Jackson blush when it comes to hit-or-miss wide receivers…BenJarvus Green-Ellis has three touchdowns over the past two games, but there’s no way he can be trusted in your fantasy playoffs. His usage is way too unpredictable, highlighted by getting just six carries at home against the Colts as 21-point favorites (and he didn’t see a single snap in the second half). I wouldn’t feel great starting him moving forward…Rob Gronkowski tied a single-season record by recording his 13th receiving touchdown as a tight end, and he would have broke it had his other one not later been ruled a rushing score. I can’t see him making it past the second round in fantasy drafts next year.

Not really sure what’s going on here, but let me introduce you to “dog disco.”

The Broncos/Vikings game was one of the best of the year, especially when you consider there were five scoring drives in the fourth quarter that resulted in a three-point win (at the buzzer) in a matchup that totaled 77 points…Percy Harvin in open space is deadly. Might want to defend the opposing team’s obvious best player with no Adrian Peterson, Denver…Speaking of the Broncos D, you certainly can’t credit this win to them, although a pick-six and a crucial interception late in the fourth certainly contributed. But Tim Tebow deserves a ton of credit. While he committed his first turnover in five games (a questionable fumble call), he got 13.5 YPA and threw a terrific pass to Demaryius Thomas facing a blitz late in the fourth quarter that could have been caught. Over the first three quarters of games this season, Tebow has got 5.0 YPA while producing six touchdowns. During fourth quarters, he’s got 9.5 YPA with seven total touchdowns…Why did the Vikings not let the Broncos score a touchdown with 1:12 left? Why was Denver attempting to score there?…Not only is Tebow 6-1 as a starter, but five of those victories have come on the road. As someone who put Denver in a parlay with Houston this week, all I can say is this; for once I was blind. Now I can see.

Peter Moylan gets burned by Nickelback.

I’m a fool and dropped C.J. Spiller in my home league earlier this year. Even if he’s not a special player, and the jury is still out, as plenty of running backs haven’t flourished until after they were considered busts in the past, the volume of touches he’s getting means he’s plenty relevant right now…Over his last four games, Chris Johnson has gained rushing yards in this sequence: 130, 13, 190, 153. It’s been a pretty crazy year for CJ, but I think it’s safe to say he’s officially back.

Meet the world’s heaviest insect, which weighs three times more than a mouse.

The Dolphins started the year 0-7, but let’s look a bit deeper. After two home games against the Patriots and Texans – teams fighting for the No. 1 seed in the AFC – they had three road tilts. After that, they lost by a field goal to the Broncos with Tim Tebow then playing (this appears to be only less damaging than a loss to the Packers) and again by a field goal in New York versus the Giants. Since then, they are 4-1, with the lone loss coming by one-point in Dallas while traveling during a short week by a field goal at the buzzer. They have allowed an average of 10.8 points over the past five games (including two garbage scores to Oakland with the game out of hand last week), and Matt Moore appears to be legit. This team is no joke…Rolando McClain’s pose here while getting arrested for fairly serious chargers is just such a Raiders thing to do.

Here’s a strong case for why we should abolish the penny entirely.

Nice to see Mike Shanahan stick to his word and feature Roy Helu extensively. In fact, no other Washington player saw a carry Sunday. Especially with his receiving ability, only health can prevent Helu from being a top-12 fantasy back down the stretch this year…Shonn Greene’s three touchdowns Sunday were more than he had previously scored in any season during his career…Tough break for Fred Davis owners.

This guy’s mugshot is fitting after trying to rob an MMA fighter.

T.J. Yates lost a fumble (that first appeared to be an incomplete pass) that would have been returned for a touchdown by Atlanta if not for oblivious coaches and players from the sidelines coming onto the field during the run back, resulting in a penalty. It was a truly bizarre play that most had given up on…I feel bad for Andre Johnson and his owners, as he once again appeared to be shot by a sniper Sunday. I guess it should be considered good news it’s his other hamstring this time…If Houston can somehow win in Cincinnati this week, they will be favorites in every other game the rest of the year, so they have a legit shot to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC, with Yates at QB (the first signal caller from UNC ever to start an NFL game). Crazy…Matt Ryan entered white hot, getting 8.5 YPA with a 9:2 TD:INT ratio over his past four games. He got 5.7 YPA with a 1:2 TD:INT ratio (and a 50.6 QB rating) Sunday, and Michael Turner was held to just 3.1 YPC. This Texans defense is the real deal. Especially without Mario Williams, Wade Phillips deserves a ton of credit. He’s one of many coaches who’s extremely valuable on one side of the ball yet have no business being in total control. Norv Turner won’t be a bad OC hire after he gets canned at the end of the year.

Crazy landing in extremely windy conditions.

After bragging about my parlay earlier, I’d be remiss not to talk about my teaser this week. I liked one team especially, but couldn’t find another. I finally settled on Pittsburgh, who ended up winning by 28 points. The team I was sure on all along? That would be the Bears. I’m not shocked or anything by their loss – few outcomes should do so for those who closely follow the NFL – but the cause being a Hail Mary was pretty frustrating, to say the least. I’m not complaining, but losing Matt Forte immediately and with a Robbie Gould short field goal miss combined with the Hail Mary at the end of the first half, let’s just say luck wasn’t exactly on my side…Speaking of Forte, what a brutal injury. He and Fred Jackson were two backs looking for big paydays having fantastic seasons only to go down later on. Pretty unfortunate…Taking away the Hail Mary, the Chiefs have scored one touchdown over their past 21 quarters.

If you’re missing a cat, here’s some hope it may have been found.

The Steelers scored 28 points in the second quarter. That’s a lot…Not sure what else I can say about A.J. Green at this point, but he’ll be a borderline top-five fantasy WR at draft tables next year, that much is clear…Mike Wallace, who normally relies on deep plays, scored two times Sunday while gaining just 38 receiving yards…Looking at their upcoming schedule, the only question with the Steelers is if they finish with 12 or 13 wins.

Pan for gold on the streets of New York City.

Cam Newton tied and later broke the NFL single-season record Sunday with 13 rushing touchdowns. He also recorded a 27-yard catch (that almost scored). Not bad for a rookie. I can’t emphasize how wrong I was about him. He’ll be a top-20 fantasy pick next year…Facing the team that had allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs, LeGarrette Blount had 11 carries for 19 yards. Ugh. The odds of Mossis Madu finishing with more yards had to have been pretty long.

Weatherman vowed to wear wife’s Colts panties if they lost to the Patriots.

The Ravens ran the ball 55 times. Just 28 passes total were completed in this game. That’s an oddity…The Browns have scored more than 20 points in just one game this season, and with three of their next four contests coming against the Ravens and Steelers (twice), they might finish the year with that distinction…Greg Little leads the NFL with 14 dropped passes this season.

An informative read about why NFL teams should throw deep more often.

What a terrific game between the Packers and Giants. With the ball at the 17-yard line, it made some sense New York called a run play before the two-minute warning, but only because they might have needed time should they not succeed on the two-point attempt. Still, it’s remarkable how 58 seconds was more than enough time for Aaron Rodgers to drive Green Bay down the field to get into easy FG territory…Can someone explain to me the difference between Greg Jennings’ touchdown catch and others that are called back for not “completing the process?”…After Hakeem Nicks beat him on an impressive, one-handed TD catch, even Charles Woodson had to give the WR props…During his coaching tenure with the Giants, Tom Coughlin is now 47-17 in the first half of seasons and 24-36 during the second half.

Here’s an extended trailer to the “Virgin Diaries” that’s every bit as cringe-worthy as expected.

I’m not sure how much there’s really a causal effect here, but the return of FB Tony Fiammetta certainly can’t hurt DeMarco Murray owners this week. Since starting, Murray has averaged 8.0 YPC with Fiammetta in the lineup and just 3.35 YPC with him out over the past three games…Kevin Kolb would be on pace to get sacked 58 times over a full season this year, and he’s committed more turnovers than touchdowns, but his 7.8 YPA at least makes him interesting moving forward…Jason Garrett deserves all the blame and then some for not only icing his own kicker, which was dumbfounding enough, but not using either of his two timeouts before that and settling for a 49-yard field goal was even worse. And here we thought those types of inept decisions left town when Wade Phillips did. Unbelievable. Even as someone who bet the Cardinals under and the Cowboys over before the season, I almost wanted to see Dallas lose for playing so stupid. Almost.

“Mashed potatoes” is Tiger’s new “Get in the hole!”

The Rams have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, but Vernon Davis dropped a perfectly thrown pass from Alex Smith that would have been a 40-plus yard touchdown Sunday. It was brutal…The Rams never advanced the ball past San Francisco’s 35-yard line all game in Week 13. That’s not very good…Aldon Smith celebrating a sack like a boss…Frank Gore has been a solid fantasy performer this year, but he hasn’t scored since Week 8, and more disconcerting has been his difference in usage as a receiver. Before going down with a season-ending hip injury, Gore was on pace to finish last year with 74 catches for 723 receiving yards. He’s on pace to grab just 21 balls for 135 receiving yards in 2011.

This pig can walk on its front legs only, while this pig may soon need to learn how to.

Kevin Smith continues to frustrate, once again revealing upside by totaling 80 yards with a touchdown in essentially a half of work, only to leave after aggravating his ankle injury. He’s a highly risky fantasy start in Week 14, albeit one with upside if he’s active…Drew Brees has got 8.4 YPA with an 11:1 TD:INT ratio while taking just two sacks (for a loss of only four yards) over his past four games, three of which coming against potential playoff teams (ALT, NYG, DET). He has a ridiculous 20 touchdown passes over six homes games this year, which is a season’s pace of 53 scores…I can’t remember ever seeing a wide receiver get double teamed at the goal line like Calvin Johnson was Sunday night…Can someone explain to me why Detroit punted down 14 points with 6:38 left in the fourth quarter? It makes even less sense when you consider New Orleans is second in the NFL in scoring with 32.8 points per game.

FDA approves hangover pill.

Maurice Jones-Drew deserves a ton of credit, as he’s on pace to finish the season with 1,912 yards from scrimmage while playing on a team that has averaged just 12.7 points per game – the second fewest in the NFL. Not bad for someone who entered the year with a big question mark regarding the condition of his knee…According to Pro Football Focus, Philip Rivers leads all quarterbacks in the league with 33 balls “thrown away” this year. The next highest is Matthew Stafford with 22. Ben Roethlisberger has four all season long…While the Monday night matchup between teams with 4-7 and 3-8 records didn’t look good on paper, the outing likely decided a lot of fantasy contests entering the playoffs.

Follow me on Twitter.

Bet On It

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

Last week I went 7-9, winning my best. I’m 84-87-5 so far this year. Best bet is 4-7-1. Onto the Week 13 picks:

EAGLES -3 at Seahawks

Raiders +3 at DOLPHINS

Falcons -2 at TEXANS (Best Bet)

Titans +1 at BILLS

Chiefs +8.5 at BEARS

JETS -3 at Redskins

BENGALS +7 at Steelers

BRONCOS pick ’em at Vikings

PANTHERS +3.5 at Buccaneers

COLTS +20.5 at Patriots

Ravens -7 at BROWNS

Cowboys -4.5 at CARDINALS

Packers -8 at GIANTS

Rams +13.5 at 49ers

LIONS +9.5 at Saints

CHARGERS -2.5 at Jaguars

Comments: The Falcons defend the run well, but this spread is an overreaction to Houston using its third-string quarterback…My teaser this week is the Bears and Steelers. I also made a lesser bet on a parlay with the Texans and Broncos.

The Scoop

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

By Dalton Del Don

With most speculating (rightfully so) how the early Thanksgiving game will finally be worth watching with the Lions being so improved, naturally, the third quarter ended with the score 24-0. Of course, the game was actually much closer than that, with the Lions arguably outplaying the Packers in the first half. Also, the following two games Thursday didn’t disappoint, so it wasn’t a disaster…Speaking of disasters, not only did someone from “American Idol” totally mess up the National Anthem, but this happened earlier in the day. Not exactly the best day for Fox’s promotional team, although they totally redeemed themselves by having Nickelback perform at halftime…I actually found Ndamukong Suh’s explanation afterward more offensive than his actions beforehand. And this is coming from someone who backed Detroit ATS (what a killer penalty). Speaking of which, since I had the Lions in a teaser, that was one of the sickest backdoor covers ever. And the Lions obviously should have gone for two there (to make it an 11-point game and bring the FG into play, and yes, any comeback there is 99.9% unlikely, but still, I appreciate Jim Schwartz thinking of my tease)…I personally didn’t have the FAAB, but I would have gone all in on Kevin Smith last week, which looked right when he racked up 57 yards though one quarter. It didn’t look so smart after he suffered an injury while making a handoff (toss) during a non-contact play shortly thereafter, reiterating just how brittle a player he is.

Pilot cheats death after his helicopter snaps in half.

The Cowboys are typically a pretty frustrating franchise, but it’s refreshing to see them give DeMarco Murray a full workload and make the inferior Felix Jones irrelevant. This type of decision-making, while obvious to most, shouldn’t be overlooked in a league that often fails in such situations…What a terrific 35-yard touchdown catch by Brandon Marshall…If you saw my teaser I mentioned above, this outcome meant I won the first two games by a total of two points, with each one coming down to the final 10 seconds. I got my money’s worth either way…But enough bragging, as an owner of Dez Bryant and Hakeem Nicks, it’s pretty frustrating watching guys like Laurent Robinson and Victor Cruz blow up facing lesser coverage. I’m certainly not saying the latter two aren’t talented in their own right, which is clearly not the case, but unlike fantasy baseball in which you should usually bet on talent and ignore roles, football is different. Then again, maybe I’m just bitter and recognizing isolated situations. Cruz is pretty damn good.

This is one of the craziest stories I’ve ever read. I strongly recommend it.

The score of the 49ers game could have been much different if not for two questionable calls, one coming on a Ted Ginn 75-yard touchdown (the call was technically correct, but it was close and had zero affect on the play) and the other being a PI on an interception in which both players went for the ball. Personally, I’d prefer refs make errors of omission than commission and let the players decide the outcome, but still, the 49ers took a whopping nine sacks while recording none, so it’s hard to argue they deserved to win, losing the line of scrimmage battle so badly…San Francisco hasn’t allowed a TD in the first half in any of its past five games…Remarkably, each team had just one possession in the third quarter…Not only did Mike Mayock drop the word “verticality,” but he also called the game “incestuous.”

This public drag race didn’t go exactly as planned.

Call me crazy, but I thought Toby Gerhart was a downgrade from Adrian Peterson…As someone who backed the Vikings +9.5, I didn’t appreciate them going for it on 4th-and-1 down two scores at the Falcons’ 1-yard line with 4:16 left in the 4th quarter, but to be fair, I thought it was the right decision…Speaking of Minny’s aggressiveness, I loved them going for it on 4th-and-13 earlier in the fourth quarter, and it has nothing to do with the result (a 39-yard TD pass to Percy Harvin). That situation was too long for a FG, but there was no reason to punt from there either…Speaking of Harvin, he’s totaled 200 yards from scrimmage with two touchdowns over the past two games, and his role in the offense grows when Peterson is out, a likely scenario for Week 13. Harvin can be a frustrating fantasy player, as he doesn’t see a full complement of snaps you’d expect for a receiver with his talent, and the touchdowns over the past two weeks were his first of the season (as a receiver). He’s actually got 7.1 YPC on 33 rushing attempts this year, and among wideouts with at least 30 catches, only Julio Jones has averaged more yards after the catch than Harvin’s 7.3 mark this season. He’s a playmaker whose role should only continue to increase.

Two 73-year-old CFL legends get into a fight.

I’ve written off Donald Brown in the past, but it was clear just how much more explosive he is than Joseph Addai on Sunday, and even with the caveat of opponent, he’s on the fantasy radar. Brown has proven to be a better option than rookie Delone Carter, and while his upside is obviously limited while playing on one of the NFL’s worst offenses, he no longer looks like a total bust. Although that’s little consolation to Indy fans…The Colts scored their first offensive touchdown in November on Sunday…I haven’t ran the numbers – because I’m too lazy, and math is hard – but I’d say the odds of the Colts not winning a game this season are around 87.5%…I’m sure plenty of fantasy owners have both Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams and went with the former this week, and I certainly wouldn’t have blamed them. What a frustrating situation.

Incredible speedboat catch.

I would love to call Chris Johnson back, but his matchup was so well set up, it’s tough to do so. Still, hard not to give him credit for such a great game. Maybe there’s hope after all…The same could be said for Mike Williams, whose fantasy value might not be dead either…Though he lost two fumbles Sunday, LeGarrette Blount is one of the better players in the NFL with the football in his hands…Tennessee and Tampa Bay combined for three turnovers over a six-play stretch. They totaled nine overall…The Titans’ kickoff return for a touchdown was one of the better coaching calls I’ve seen all season – brilliantly executed as well.

Man breaks into White Sox GM home, defrosts lobster.

As someone who relies heavily on Arian Foster (and even Ben Tate to an extent), it’s pretty clear these QB injuries hurt his fantasy value. Although Jacksonville’s defense is good, and it’s worth pointing out T.J. Yates is more athletic and showed a greater willingness to throw downfield than Leinart. The rookie may actually have more upside…I’m beginning to think Blaine Gabbert might have been a bad draft pick…Houston has now recorded an interception in 10 straight games…Marcedes Lewis’ drop (and subsequent missed play in the end zone) was the worst I’ve seen this season. He was wide open on an easy toss from the 3-yard line. Inexcusable.

Arnold Schwarzenegger gives the best DVD commentary ever. Especially if you’re blind.

Beanie Wells erupted for a franchise-record 228 rushing yards and a touchdown on 28 carries in Week 12, getting 8.4 YPC in the process. He continues to play at less than 100 percent and with a knee brace and briefly left Sunday’s game with what appeared to be a serious injury, but he returned and certainly looks more explosive than he did a month ago. The performance came against a Rams defense that has allowed 5.1 YPC on the year, which is the second-highest in the NFL, but Wells broke off runs for 71 and 53 yards in an impressive outing. After scoring six touchdowns over his first four games this season, Wells has hit pay dirt just twice over seven games since, but the return of Kevin Kolb should help the offense. Wells’ schedule down the stretch isn’t exactly favorable, but at least he has a home matchup against the Browns in Week 15…It’s safe to say it would be a long shot if Steve Spagnuolo is still a head coach in 2012…Patrick Peterson tied an NFL record with his fourth punt return for a touchdown in a season, and he’s the only one with all of them coming from 80 yards or more. He’s been a travesty in coverage, but that’s pretty impressive.

Man with UK’s biggest feet is a hit with the ladies.

I call running back a fungible position quite often and would usually argue for a younger player to replace a more established one, but wow is C.J. Spiller so clearly a downgrade from Fred Jackson. Not that it should have been unexpected at this point, but still…Stevie Johnson’s drop on the final drive that would have almost certainly resulted in a game-winning touchdown was far more egregious than his antics celebrating his earlier TD…Mark Sanchez’s four touchdown game had to be one of the least impressive in NFL history.

NBC’s I-Team wants to warn you about this new dangerous game called beer pong.

Peyton Hillis was questionable to play in Week 12, but after Montario Hardesty suffered a setback in pregame warmups, not only did Hillis see his first action in six weeks, he started and was given 21 touches. He certainly wasn’t overly impressive, gaining just 61 yards on those touches, but Cleveland’s playbook expands with him in the backfield, so as long as he doesn’t reinjure his persistent hamstring problem, he should be a workhorse from here on out. While that makes him once again relevant in fantasy terms, the problem is Cleveland’s upcoming schedule, which features the Ravens and Steelers in four of the next five games (although the latter comes in Week 17, so really it’s three of the next four in most formats, but that’s still brutal)…Cleveland scored a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time this season…I’m not sure I’m ready to live in a world where both Cedric Benson and Marshawn Lynch are top-15 fantasy backs.

Amazing 60-yard goal in last minute of soccer match.

Roy Helu racked up 162 yards and a touchdown on 30 touches during the Redskins’ win Sunday, acting as the team’s workhorse in the backfield. He’s now up to 4.8 YPC on the season and is a weapon as a receiver as well. It’s obviously risky trusting a Mike Shanahan running back at this point, but the coach did declare Helu the team’s clear starter after his recent performance, a label Shanahan has previously refused to declare. Helu has fresh legs, and the Redskins offense has improved with Rex Grossman retaking QB duties from John Beck, so the rookie back could be a major difference maker in fantasy leagues down the stretch…Not only does Red Bryant have three blocked field goals this season, but he also blocked an extra point Sunday as well.

Colorado man sues couple he kidnapped.

Darren McFadden’s return date from his foot sprain continues to be pushed back, and at this point, it wouldn’t be too wise to expect much from him in 2011. We are already approaching the fantasy playoffs, and McFadden has yet to return even to a limited practice, and since the injury was to his foot, he hasn’t been able to stay properly in shape. So he’d likely be limited for a game or two even if he were able to return to action. Moreover, with Michael Bush such a strong alternative, there’s no need to rush Oakland’s franchise player, especially if they think he can get back to 100 percent come playoff time. McFadden remains one of the most productive fantasy players when on the field, but he also continues to be one of the more injury-prone backs in the league. He’s never played more than 13 games in any of his four seasons in the NFL…Not only did Sebastian Janikowski go 6-for-6 on field goals, but Shane Lechler also had an 80-yard punt…Caleb Hanie was an obvious downgrade from Jay Cutler, but his 50 rushing yards mean he’s someone to keep an eye on in fantasy leagues moving forward.

Historian attacks congressman for attending crappy community college.

After being suspended in Week 10, DeSean Jackson was benched in Week 12 after committing a couple of ugly drops that would have resulted in scores, as his nightmare season continues. He hasn’t scored since Week 5 and has just two touchdowns all year, and he’s also averaging only 7.3 yards per punt return, which is easily a career-low. Moreover, his nine drops are tied for the fourth-most among wide receivers in the NFL, while he’s managed to break just one tackle all season long. Still, especially with no Jeremy Maclin (hamstring), fantasy owners shouldn’t give up on the frustrating Jackson, and it wouldn’t shock if he had a big game in Week 13…I’m not sure what happened to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who didn’t do much at all after a big start over the first quarter and a half Sunday, but it’s remarkable he’s yet to fumble a single time during his career.

Man has 16 children with 14 different women.

Tim Tebow’s 22 rushing attempts were the most ever by a quarterback since the merger…Wide receiver is a position that’s inconsistent by nature, but Vincent Jackson has taken it to extreme levels this season. He’s racked up 586 receiving yards with seven touchdowns over four games. In the other seven contests, Jackson has managed 239 receiving yards with zero scores. That’s pretty crazy…There were a comedy of errors at the end of this game, starting with referee Jeff Triplett announcing before overtime that “each team must have the opportunity to possess the football…and score.” I enjoyed Dan Fouts’ response: “He just misspoke, that’s all. I do it all the time. Although probably not as much as him.” And then there was Nick Novak relieving himself on the sideline. Finally, Norv Turner called a timeout with just two seconds left on Denver’s play clock when the Broncos were unsettled and not ready to hike on the final field goal attempt (Denver had no timeouts). Are you kidding me? It doesn’t get much more incompetent than that.

Octopus walks on land.

Jackie Battle has averaged only 9.0 touches over the past three weeks, so his role has become much more shared than once hoped, when it appeared he might be KC’s feature back. It’s possible the Chiefs offense improves once Kyle Orton takes over, but as of now, with Tyler Palko at quarterback, it might be the worst in the league. They have scored just one touchdown in their last 45 offensive drives…Since entering the NFL, no one in the league has been sacked more than Ben Roethlisberger.

After this promo, I’m sold.

The Saints won a coin toss for first time this season Monday night…Victor Cruz is out of control good. He’s going to be a member of a lot of winning fantasy teams this year…Drew Brees put on an absolute clinic Monday night. He didn’t take a sack and would have approached 500 passing yards had New Orleans not stepped off the gas pedal up 35-10 entering the fourth quarter. As someone who faced him in my home fantasy league in a matchup that came down to MNF, it was a pretty brutal experience watching him surgically pick a part a helpless New York secondary. As if the four TD passes weren’t enough, he also added a rushing score for good measure – his first since 2009. Brees is on pace to finish the season with 5,366 passing yards, which would break the NFL record by 282 yards.

Follow me on Twitter.