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14 Sep 2005

Scramble for the Ball: Kickoff Kraziness

by Al Bogdan and Vivek Ramgopal

Vivek: So how many of you are left in your weekly eliminator pools? One of mine saw 42 of 63 taken out while another waved goodbye to 35 of 53 courtesy of San Francisco and Miami. Those prognosticators aren't the only ones in mourning today -- so are Javon Walker owners and those of us who picked the Carolina Panthers to get to the Super Bowls on the strength of Kris Jenkins.

So without further ado, I kick this week's Scramble off in my best Coffee Talk with Linda Richman voice, "Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: Is Willie Parker this year's sleeper RB for the Steelers? Discuss."

Should the Chargers be worried in the West?

Vivek: Not at all. The Chargers would have beaten the Cowboys if Antonio Gates was in the lineup. Look at the last San Diego series against Dallas. The Chargers had a first and goal from the Dallas seven-yard line with 47 seconds left, but minus Gates, were missing that big target in the end zone. Marty Schottenheimeier could not give the ball to LT twice to pound it into the end zone with only one timeout left, so Drew Brees had to try to force the ball to Keenan McCardell. The Cowboys easily stacked up the defense against McCardell. San Diego should have no problem against a Broncos team that returned from Miami with its tail between its legs.

Al: Yes, the Chargers should be worried. Not about themselves, but about the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chief run defense looked to be greatly improved from their terrible 2004. Derrick Johnson was a force to be reckoned with all over the field. Sure, Chad Pennington helped out by botching a half dozen snaps, but when he was able to hold onto the ball, the Chief defense effectively closed out all of his receiving options.

Will the Redskins' offense be as bad as it was last year?

Vivek: I haven't been a fan of what Joe Gibbs has done with this Washington offense, but I do believe that this will be the offensive low point for the year. Despite the low point total, the Redskins were able to put drives together. They would have more to show for their efforts if Chris Cooley wasn't flagged for pass interference. Washington had no three-and-outs, and averaged almost nine plays per drive (minus the drives to end each half). And yes, I am drinking the Mark Brunell Kool-Aid to wash down my dinner.

Al: I have to disagree. The offense has plenty of room to go down, now that Patrick Ramsey has been removed as the starting quarterback after an ineffective quarter and a half and replaced by Mark Brunell. If Gibbs had this little confidence in Ramsey, why bother with starting him in Week 1? Why list him as the number one quarterback throughout the pre-season? Yet another head shaking decision from the Washington Redskins that will lead to another 6-10 season.

Vivek: The treatment of Patrick Ramsey is a column all to itself. Ramsey has been beaten up by former coaches, misused and had his head messed with by Gibbs. Put him on another team, and you'll see a serviceable starting quarterback.

Should Dante Culpepper owners worry about the post-Randy era?

Al: Yup, but not just because Randy Moss isn't around. For the past few seasons, Minnesota has been able to complement the great passing attack that Culpepper and Moss provided with one of the better rushing attacks in the game. The Vikings have finished in the top five in rushing DVOA for every season we have DVOA numbers for published on the site (2000-04). Minnesota is missing two of its stalwarts on the offensive line from that era -- Pro Bowl center Matt Birk is done for the year because of an injury, and guard David Dixon is in semi-involuntary retirement as an assistant coach for a Minnesota high school football team. Without an effective running game to help set up the pass, and less talented receivers to throw to, it's looking like Culpepper's numbers will not be what owners who drafted him in the first or second round were hoping for.

Vivek: I am realizing that Culpepper might not be worthy of a top-seven fantasy pick, even though the Vikings as an overall team are much improved from past years. The running back situation is no more settled now than it was going into training camp, prior to Wizzinator-gate. A telling indicator of Culpepper's 2005 season is his stat line without Randy Moss, which was about 90 yards per game less than with Moss.

What about Priest Holmes owners in the Larry Johnson era?

Vivek: Priest is still Priest and will be a top-seven fantasy back if healthy for the full season. Johnson may have out-gained Holmes in total yardage for Week 1, but Holmes had 23 touches vs. Johnson's 10. Johnson is by no means the goal-line back either, so both backs should have 8-10 touchdowns on the year. The yardage balance will fall towards Holmes as the season progresses as well.

Al: I agree. There are more than enough balls to go around in the Chief offense. If anything, Johnson's taking a third or so of the carries per game will help Holmes owners in the long run. Sure, you're less likely to see a return to Holmes' previous 2,000-yard, 20 touchdown seasons with a decrease in his per-game workload from his peak production of 2001-03. But you're much more likely to be able to play Holmes for 16 weeks this year as Johnson will help slow down the inevitable damage Holmes will take on his 32-year old body.

Who the hell is Frisman Jackson?

Vivek: Frisman Jackson is the player that every fantasy owner will be trying to pick up, then trade to you for Tiki Barber next week. David Terrell had 126 yards after one game last season, about 20% of his season total, and we all know where his career has gone. For those of you wondering, Jackson is a four-year veteran from Western Illinois who recorded 38% of his career receiving yards on Sunday. I'd expect Antonio Bryant and Braylon Edwards to bump him down the stat charts by Week 4.

Al: Seeing Jackson's stats on Sunday brought me all the way back to 2003, when fantasy owners went crazy trying to figure out which Brown receiver would be worth starting that week. Every time Dennis Northcutt or Andre Davis would get picked up from the waiver wire, they'd be back there a week or two later in favor of Quincy Morgan or Kevin Johnson. I'm getting rid of all my Browns receivers this week just so I'm not frustrated by their inevitable inconsistent production.

Can the Saints keep this up?

Al: Sadly, no. New Orleans' upset of the Panthers on the road was a great win, but I can't see New Orleans keeping this up all year. The team will be living out of their suitcases for the entire NFL season. At no point will the players get to go home to their own bed to relax and unwind with their families after a grueling game. While their opponents spend most of the week commuting from their homes to a temperature-controlled practice field and studying tape in a video room set up with state of the art equipment, the Saints have to make due bussing from the hotel to a high school stadium and watching videos in the city's convention center. As of last week, the Saints didn't even have their own weight room set up yet. In the short term, a team can overcome this. But in the NFL, over the course of a full season, this will all catch up with a team that I wasn't too high on to begin with.

Scramble for the Ball Mailbag

Tito asks us to rate his team:

Draft Results: I would like you guys to critique the RB and WR corps I have assembled. There is one major thing I am scared of, which I will tell you afterwards. I am in a 12 owner, 17 roster size seasonal league:

RB
T. Barber
C. Portis
W. Dunn
R. Droughns
M. Williams
M. Pittman

WR
Mi. Clayton
H. Ward
R. Smith
K. Johnson
J. McCareins
Ma. Clayton

I like it. I'm worried about the age of my wideouts (Ward, Smith, Johnson), and I was just curious if you think I should try to make my WR corps a younger one with more upside, and less injury risk.

Vivek: Nice run of running backs in a 12-team league. You are being a bit too sensitive about the age of your wide receivers. Hines Ward has not shown any signs of slowing down, and I think you'll get enough out of either Michael Clayton or Rod Smith to contend in your league. I'll assume that you start two running backs and a flex position, so Dunn is more than adequate there.

Al: I also wouldn't do anything drastic to your wide receivers. Clayton/Ward/Smith is as good of a starting three wide receivers as you could hope for in a 12-team league while also having three starting running backs on your team.

Ernie M. writes:

I was reading the OPE section of the PFP 2005, and Dan Lewis mentions that fantasy defenses should be picked off the waiver wire. He recommends choosing the one that is playing against the worst offensive line. I was wondering how to figure out which offensive line. Should I use DVOA? DPAR? A combination of the two?

I picked up Philadelphia and Tampa Bay in my draft. Should I drop these two and pick up someone else?

Al: I agree with the idea that you shouldn't draft fantasy defenses early, if at all, and instead grab them off the waiver wire week to week based on the matchup. However, you've found yourself with what should be two pretty good defenses. If anything, having both Philadelphia and Tampa on your fantasy team is a bit redundant. Unless you're forced to carry a backup defense, I'd dump one of them (Tampa) and use the roster spot on another backup RB or WR.

Vivek: Case in point was the Redskins against the Bears in Week 1.

Curtis asks:

Thanks for the Marcus Pollard tip last week. With Gates out I needed Pollard to make up for my number-one wide receiver leaving the game with a knee injury. Who should I pick up to replace Javon Walker now that he's done for the year?

Al: It's going to be tough to find someone to replace the numbers you were expecting Walker to put up as a No. 1 wide receiver. One name that might be on your league's waiver wire that I think will have a big year is Patrick Crayton on Dallas. I don't see him being a one-week wonder, like I do Frisman Jackson. Crayton was extremely effective in very limited time last season, and beat out Quincy Morgan for a starting job during the pre-season. Crayton will be able to hold off Peerless Price for playing time, and should emerge as Dallas' #2 wide receiver ahead of Terry Glenn in the not so distant future.

Vivek: Without Koren Robinson, Bobby Engram is firmly entrenched as the second receiver in Seattle. He'll drop his share of passes, but factor in six catches and about 70 yards a game for the year.

Lessons Learned from Week 1

Lesson 1 -- The NFC West is the Worst Division in Football

Al: We already knew this, but Week 1 did a great job of confirming it. Arizona doesn't have an offensive line. Seattle can't give the ball away fast enough. The less said about the St. Louis/San Francisco game, the better. Last year there was a scenario that was still possible going into Week 12 where the 49ers could have won the NFC West with a 6-10 record. That's not an unbelievable scenario this year after the Week 1 performances of these three teams.

Lesson 2 -- This May Be the Year the Chiefs Finally Put it Together on Defense

Vivek: After a coordinator change did not fix the Chiefs' defense, Kansas City went out this offseason and brought in the right players. Kendrell Bell and Derrick Johnson are much welcome additions, and opposing quarterbacks will not be able to be as daring anymore with Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight.

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

Vivek: There was enough blame to go around for the Jets' loss -- Kevin Mawae for his share of bad snaps, the offensive line (which was the second best in the NFL last year) for yielding three sacks on Sunday, dropped passes, a missed field goal, and well you get the idea. But Chad Pennington's performance was disturbing to Jets fans for so many reasons. Most of his six fumbles were due to poor decisions, something extremely uncharacteristic of Pennington. He carelessly tried to escape the pocket when under pressure versus being his usual cerebral self, which would have gone along with the "live to fight another day" mentality.

Al: I'd also like to mention the awful performance by Jet cornerback David Barrett in the first half of the game. Barrett was matched up against Eddie Kennison early on and showed no ability to contain the Chief wide receiver. Barrett also had an opportunity to stop Priest Holmes from scoring his touchdown, as Barrett had Holmes wrapped up at the ankles on the four-yard line. Holmes easily escaped Barrett's grasp, however, and scampered into the end zone.

Since you mentioned offensive lines, Viv, I'd be remiss not to mention the Chicago Bear O-line, which cost the Bears a victory over Washington by moving the team out of field-goal range with three consecutive false start penalties. Three consecutive false starts? I've never seen that before.

Loser League Update

Al: We won't have the Loser League Contest results up for another week or two, but here are the top individual performers based on my unscientific scanning of this week's box scores. These are all unofficial tallies, we'll have the official scores up sometime in the near future.

At QB, Josh McCown put up a perfect 0 points during his garbage time play at the end of the Cardinals' blowout loss to New York. Among quarterbacks you might have drafted, Patrick Ramsey finished with only 1 point. The jokers who try to pick the worst loser league team took a big hit this week as Daunte Culpepper also finished with only 1 point. At running back, rookie J.J. Arrington scored 0 points for rushing, thanks to his eight-carry, five-yard performance, but managed 22 receiving yards to score 2 points for the week. He was bested only by Travis Henry, who had only one fewer carry than Chris Brown, but finished with nearly 30 fewer rushing yards and one more lost fumble for a 1 point loser league score. Eight different receivers scored 1 point including a few you might have had starting on your actual fantasy team, like Andre Johnson, Ashley Lelie, and Roy Williams. At kicker, it doesn't get much better than the three missed field goal performance from Matt Stover, who managed a garbage time extra point for a spectacular -5 points. A special mention should go to the official rookie kicker of Pro Football Prospectus 2005, Mike Nugent, who missed his first NFL field goal attempt to finish with -1 loser league points.

Best Bets

Vivek: (1-2 last week, 1-2 overall)

I've picked up right where I left off last year, losing with picks of the Raiders +7.5 and the Redskins -6.5. Using the lines from FOX Sports, here are this week's picks.

San Diego +3.0 over DENVER

This pick is not just because of Denver's loss to Miami last week, but because of their offseason moves, which did not impress me at all. Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown, Michael Myers, Ebenezer Ekuban and Trevor Pryce (returning from surgery) are all a step below their counterparts from last year. Subtract an injured Champ Bailey, and it will be a big offensive day for the Chargers.

PHILADELPHIA -13.5 over San Francisco

Philly at home and angry about its Monday Night Football loss. I dare Tim Rattay to throw into the Eagles secondary.

CINCINNATI -3.0 over Minnesota

I'm really hurting the chances of my pre-season NFC championship pick by having Minnesota start out 0-2, but I liked what I saw from the Bengals last week.

And for those of you picking games straight up this week, you can view my picks over at The Writers.

Al: (3-0 last week, 3-0 overall)

I've never started off a season with a perfect record before. I'm going to take a minute and enjoy this before my record quickly crashes back to earth.

N.Y. Giants -3.0 over NEW ORLEANS

There's been a lot of talk about how the Giants have been granted an unfair advantage by having the New Orleans game moved to the Meadowlands, giving New York one more home game. Where were all these people complaining when the NFL scheduled Arizona to have one less home game than the rest of the teams in their division?

ARIZONA -1.0 over St. Louis

With the disadvantage of only seven true home games, Arizona can't afford to lose when they actually are at home to a division rival. The Cardinals lost to the Giants because of the failures of their special teams. Lucky for them, they're going against a team that has consistently had bad special teams for the past five seasons. I'm going to try a little experiment and just take the home team any time two NFC West teams play each other from now on (excluding the 49ers/Cardinals game in Mexico).

DALLAS -6.0 over Washington

Mark Brunell on the road.

Posted by: scramble on 14 Sep 2005

81 comments, Last at 10 Sep 2010, 3:06am by uggs outlet

Comments

1
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:22pm

How can Jeremiah Trotter not receive at least a small mention as a KCW candidate this week?

2
by G (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:33pm

I personally can't wait for the first 3-13 team to make the playoffs. All 4 teams in the division win their home division games and lose every other game. The NFC West has potential. Just imagine all the tiebreakers with 4 teams at 3-13!

3
by SJM (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:51pm

OK, I admit it, I picked up Frisman Jackson just in case. But I cut Antonio Bryant to make room, so don't make fun of me.

Question: Is Seatle's offense really this bad? If it is, I'm screwed, because I have Hasselbeck, D. Jackson and Alexander as starters. That's what happens when you have the 2nd overall pick and aren't careful to watch for things like that.

4
by MRH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:00am

Brunell actually has been better on the road (at least from a fantasy standpoint) the last 3 years, realizing that better is not necessarily good:

2002-2004
Road/Home
G: 13/14
PYd: 2260/2206
PTD: 14/12
Int: 7/6
RYd: 188/100
RTD: 0/1
Fum: 6/6

More yards (rush and pass) and passing TDs on the road in fewer games. A little higher turnover rate on the road and a nominal home rushing TD.

5
by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:03am

Ron Mexico:

And Trotter is the Axe-Man too!

6
by TRak (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:03am

One main ingredient the KC Chiefs have missed over the last 3-5 seasons are takeaways. Surtain, Knight, Bell, Carlos Hall have vastly upgraded talent for Gunther Cunningham's schemes--not mentioning the ability to create opponent mistakes (see 9-11 box Chiefs NY Jets). And in three weeks they'll get Eric Warfield back from suspension--not expected to take on the opposing #1 receiver. He should adjust w/the #2 receiver fairly well.

7
by TRak (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:07am

Jeremiah Trotter has been on Celebrity Dodgeball GSN. If HE had the loose helmet that DeAngelo Hall held. . .

8
by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:36am

I'm a little disappointed at you guys for just handing the "worst conference in the NFL" award to the NFC West. I think the NFC North will have given them a run for the money by the end of the year. Bears can't score, the Packers can't score or defend, the Lions could only put up 17 points over a team that can't defend, and Minny got blown at home by an at-best 8-8 TB team.

Prediction: Bears take the NFC North at 6-10.

9
by Carter (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:38am

Wow what a week a lot of upsets is the NFL really going to start out this bad or is this just another sign that the Patriots are going to win another title?

10
by Adam H (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:40am

Re 6 Hey thats right, Trot left school as a junior because his dad was getting too old to feed the family by cutting and selling fire wood.

11
by Carter (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:46am

I agree the NFC North is hoorible. Let's take a look and compare the NFC West against the NFC North. Starting with Seahawks vs Vikings, winner: Seahawks. Next St. Louis vs. Packers winner: Rams. Next Arizona vs Lions winner:Lions. And for the win or tie San Francisco vs Bears winner dang this is hard! There all just so terrible the Bears win in 3 OT 2-0 that is just terrible but it really doesn't matter none of the teams mentioned above will win a playoff game.

12
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:27am

Minnesota is bad, but they're not THAT bad. Not NFC West bad. Their running game is a definite problem, but culpepper is still a great QB, and they still have good WRs, and *if* the defensive acquisitions work out, they should be at least as good as they were last year.

Which wasn't all that great, still, but not SF bad....

13
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:59am

Completely offtopic, but am I the only one that thinks there should be a gil thorpe archive? Been looking for the "My God, Minnesotans are insane!" one to explain the Vikes to the wife.

14
by Bruce Dickinson (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:02am

Hey Viv,
I'm on the Cincy bandwagon (so far), but anybody could look impressive against the Browns.

Bruce's Best Bet: Jets (-6) over Dolphins. Using the same logic as the Philadelphia/SF pick by Viv.

Last week I called out the Bears saying that game had 10-7 written all over it.

So i'm counting that as 1-0 thus far.

15
by Bill (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:16am

Marty Schottenheimeier could not give the ball to LT twice to pound it into the end zone with only one timeout left, so Drew Brees had to try to force the ball to Keenan McCardell.

Oh, but he could! With one timeout, he can give it to him on first down or realistically on second down. He can give it to him on first down, call a timeout, then spike the ball if a sack/fumble happens on second down.

If he gives it to him on second down, they can send in the third down pass play with it to be run immediately afterwards, or call the timeout and run a third down play with a very safe checkdown available to stop the clock.

Regardless of which down he uses LT originally, he can definitely use Tomlinson on fourth down, and inside the 5, that might be a better move than throwing.

16
by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:56am

#9
"Wow what a week a lot of upsets is the NFL really going to start out this bad"

Whaaat? Upsets are bad, now? I would honestly like to know why one could consider upsets to be a bad thing. Carter?

17
by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 3:01am

Sorry for the stupid double post to question another thing written by the same guy:

Re: #11 paraphrased:

Seahawks > Vikings
Rams > Packers
Cardinals > Lions
Bears > 49ers

I'm just curious, do you watch the games, or get all your information from Madden 2006?

18
by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 3:42am

#17:

I watch the games,and I don't see what's so crazy about that. I would probably go with

Vikings>Seahawks
Rams>Packers
Lions>Cardinals
Bears>49ers

But these are all pretty much tossups. It's not like any of these pit one clearly good team against one clearly bad team.

19
by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 9:40am

Trot getting himself tossed was inexcusable, though his behavior didn't look that extreme. On the other hand, I can only hope Andy Reid is a Martz award contender after calling 47 passes and 13 runs during a game where his team trailed by four points for three full quarters.

20
by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 9:46am

RE: #1 Ron Mexico
I'd think Trotter didn't get the recognition because even with him out, it wasn't the defence that flopped for the Eagles on Monday.

This is the thread for fantasy discussion, right? In one league I have:

QB Favre vs Cle
QB Roethlisberger AT Hou
WR Driver vs Cle
WR Randel El AT Hou

I'm trying to pick one of the QBs and one of the WRs, but I'd rather not put all my eggs in one basket by picking both from the same team. Both Cle and Hou are terrible teams, so I don't have a matchup to play. I'm currently leaning towards playing Roethlisberger and Driver (at least Driver is now GBs #1 reciever). Any other suggestions?

21
by Led (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 10:04am

I'm not going to say he played well because the fumbles are inexcusable and really cost the team (as did the pick), but Pennington was a Coles dropped TD pass away from a 300 yard day with 1 TD/1 INT, completion percentage in the high 60's, YPA well over 9. He had 5 or 6 other passes dropped as well. And they couldn't run the ball. And the defense stunk. In other words, they sucked as a team.

The Chiefs D is better but they shouldn't feel too comfortable about their secondary. Jets receivers were open all day. Their LB's, however, are much improved and the it really shows in the run defense.

22
by MCS (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 10:05am

What is the story on Parker anyway? In one league, I dropped Eric Shelton and picked him up. Seems like a reasonable change.

23
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 10:19am

Shouldn't Madden get the KCW Award for his ad nauseum repetition of the phrase on Monday Night?

24
by Peder (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 10:24am

Re: NFC North vs NFC West

Don't you think we should maybe wait a week or two before deciding every team's season is going to turn out? These teams may not have really shown their true selves yet. Or are we really prepared to put Miami in the Super Bowl?

25
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 10:56am

Fnor: There already is a Gil Thorpe archive: http://www.jasonabeattie.com/more6.html
and
http://www.jasonabeattie.com/more6_5.html

Anyways, I'm jumping on the Bears bandwagon, I can't wait to watch it burst into flames as Kyle Orton drives it off a bridge.

26
by Jason, the lazy cartoonist (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 11:06am

#13:

Fnor, there is an archive of all the early Gil Thorp comics, including "Minnesotans are insane" on my site...click my name to go there. Unfortunately it's woefully out of date (so it only currently goes through October of last year) I'll hopefully add the rest soon before I get over a year behind...

27
by James (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 11:19am

Marty Schottenheimeier could not give the ball to LT twice to pound it into the end zone with only one timeout left, so Drew Brees had to try to force the ball to Keenan McCardell.
------
Oh, but he could! With one timeout, he can give it to him on first down or realistically on second down. He can give it to him on first down, call a timeout, then spike the ball if a sack/fumble happens on second down.
------
I actually had a pretty good rant about this yesterday. There is no excuse to not make use of Tomlinson in either a run or screen pass type situation.

From reading TMQ, it sounds like all 4 tries were straight drop and throws. With one timeout and 47 seconds, Dallas had to at least respect the run, so a play action fake on first down would have been nice.

I also believe strongly that sending in two running plays to be run back to back no-huddle is surely in SD best interest. Even giving a VERY conservative 25 seconds to get the second play ready to run there's lots of time. Not to mention, if you run the second play out of a different formation, you leave the defense scrambling to adjust, and on a goalline stand you only need one defender not completely set to get bowled over and you have a walk in for a touchdown.

Schottenheimer is BRUTAL.

Don't get me started on Andy Reid's play calling either ;)

28
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 11:31am

Jason:

I still crack up every time I see the Dick Vermeil at the Jaguars rally comic. "You can bite me, K.C.!"

That, and "Dolphins Game Plan: Stop Sucking" are the best two lines you've written.

29
by Tally (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 11:40am

Re #15, #27: Watching the game, I noticed that the Chargers hardly gave the ball to LT at all in the entire 4th quarter. I thought, heaven forbid, that LT had injured himself again. The Cowboys kept dropping people back into coverage because LT wasn't getting the ball. Frankly, without Gates in the lineup, there was no reason not to give it to LT at the goal line, even if they had to burn a down spiking the ball.

I can't imagine any other reason, except that perhaps LT was having a subpar game. Still, he's not going to get stuffed twice in a row.

30
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 11:48am

Re: Ramsey
He will play at some point again this season. Joe Gibbs yanked him due to 2 fumbles (1 lost) and 1 interception in 1 quarter. He's trying to send a message to players... "protect the ball...".

Antonio Brown, speedster who was returning punts and kickoffs was cut after fumbling the opening 2nd half kickoff, leading to 7 Bears points.

Everyone is tantalized by Ramsey's upside, but we can't overlook his holding onto the ball too long, leading to hits and fumbles... and his sometimes erratic throws. I believe this could also be known as "Mark Rypien of 1989" syndrome.

Apparantly Brunell had an injured hamstring last year... which hampered his play. Needless to say there is much handwringing in Washington from the fans, especially since it is Dallas week.

It wouldn't suprise me if Taylor Jacobs was activated. He still could be banged up and not 100 % until after the Week 3 bye, but right now they only have 3 WRs active. He's not listed on their injury report, so I imagine he's going to be the 4th WR.

With all the controversy over Brunell and Ramsey, no one is even talking about the appearance of Sean Taylor at WR...

31
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 11:54am

“Dolphins Game Plan: Stop Sucking�

That guy from the A-Team "I love it when a plan comes together."

32
by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:27pm

I watch the games,and I don’t see what’s so crazy about that. I would probably go with

Vikings>Seahawks
Rams>Packers
Lions>Cardinals
Bears>49ers

But these are all pretty much tossups.

That was my point. Acting like it's obvious that team X is better than team Y after week 1 without any supporting info is pretty stupid, especially if team Y won and team X lost.

33
by Jeremy Billones (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:35pm

"Where were all these people complaining when the NFL scheduled Arizona to have one less home game than the rest of the teams in their division?"

Yeah, but nobody cares about Arizona.

34
by Mr. X (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:54pm

Thinking that the Chargers lost because of not having Antonio Gates is fools gold. The Chargers gave up huge 3rd downs because of their secondary getting holding calls. What their defense didn't give up on they ground they gave up through the air (giving Bledsoe the NFC player of the week award) and kept shooting themselves in the foot when they had the upper hand, and that should worry the Chargers. Being good enough to beat other teams is one thing but beating yourself is something totally different. Could'a, should'a, would'a, if you cant stop yourself from self destructing on game day, no one player will help you win. Kudos to the Cowboys for taking advantage of the Chargers mistakes.

35
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:09pm

#33:

That, and you don't have any home field advantage when there are more fans supporting the other team at your "home" stadium.

36
by MRH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:12pm

if you cant stop yourself from self destructing on game day, no one player will help you win.

Well put. A big reason the Jets lost. And an interesting observation of how the Chiefs D stopped self-destructing for at least one week, from Dick Vermeil:

We did not have a penalty on our defensive football team. Last year on 30 percent of the scoring drives we gave an opponent a first down within that scoring drive due to a defensive penalty. You can’t do that and win football games.

Might this be an interesting study for FO, al a the randomness of fumble recoveries or 3rd down efficiency as a predictor? (Maybe it already is, better read up on VOA again).

37
by Johnny (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:24pm

Re #34.

All well and good, but the fact remains that even with the poor defense you mention, the Chargers had 4 chances to win their game. And having their best red zone receiver available would have increased their chances of winning.

38
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:24pm

#30: Per the Washington Post, there are players who disagree with the decision, and on the interception, the WR ran the wrong route.

Brunell is getting paid $43 million. Gibbs hand picked him. There is an ego involved. That's all there is to it.

39
by Wes M (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:27pm

Re: #20

I think it depends on whether you want to gamble or play safe. Since the PIT game plan is to run the ball often and have BigBen in the least amount of situations to hurt the team...

Gamble: Take Favre and Driver. If it pays, it pays big.

Safe: BigBen and Driver.

(While CLE isn't good by any stretch, Palmer/C.Johnson/Houszh didn't have All-Pro games against them either...)

40
by Tally (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:51pm

Re #34, 37:

I'm not saying that the Chargers would have won if Gates were present, though it would obviously have increased their chances. The point is that if their best red zone receiver isn't in the game, the Chargers shouldn't have tried to force four passes into endzone with that advantage absent. Their best option at that point was LT, and they didn't go to him once.

41
by Sean D. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:55pm

I don't understand this fascination with assuming that Marty Schottenheimer calls plays. I've been watching Chargers game Marty's entire career there and Cam Cameron and Drew Brees decide which play they run. Marty just listens and could veto a play. I don't think there are many head coaches in the NFL that call plays and when they do the media makes a big deal about it (see Sherman, Mike). Cam Cameron deserves the blame and that stupid ex-Hoosier coach should get the boot when his contract expires at the end of the year.

42
by M (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:02pm

Lest we begin thinking week 1 is a true litmus test for how the rest of the season will go, I offer this score:

Week 1, 2003 season:

Buffalo 31, New England 0

Plus, even really good teams have stinker games throughout the year - is it any worse for it to be in Week 1 than any other week?

43
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:05pm

M:

I do want to point out that that game (+its partner at the end of the season when Buffalo lost 31-0) is in fact the huge statistical outlier over the past 4 years.

If your team lost to a division rival in week 1, and expects to play them later, you better hope they didn't get killed in the first game.

44
by Ferg (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:13pm

Re: 30 no one is even talking about the appearance of Sean Taylor at WR…

Possibly because he did not, technically, do anything in his two snaps at WR.

If he scores a TD, I'm sure we'll see it on Sports Center.

45
by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:34pm

#32:

Ahhhhh, got it.

46
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:36pm

All I can say is "Brunell, Bledsoe, it's Monday night."
TMQ said most Americans will be watching the Saints/Giants game on monday instead of Redskins/Cowboys. He implied it had something to do with Americans wanting to support New Orleands after Katrina, but clearly there are other factors involved.

47
by Ian (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 3:03pm

David Barrett getting the KCW award? Give the guy some credit- Replays clearly showed that Holmes was down at the one, but the Jets (Herm Edwards sux) failed to challenge the play.
I'd also like to give a shoutout to J.J. Arrington for being completely and utterly awful.
And finally, I think Kyle Boeller deserves the award as much as Chad Pennington. How many times did Kyle over or underthrow completely wide-open receivers? They had NO semblance of offense until Boeller got injured (and the fans cheered).

48
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 3:33pm

Yea, I think Herm Edwards or his clock management coach should get the Martz award for that play.

49
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 4:09pm

Speaking of the Gil Thorp cartoon, I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but Gary Hogeboom's one of the contestants on the new season of Survivor, which debuts tonight.

50
by Alexander Lindsay (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 5:26pm

I have to play Willie Parker this week against the Texans right? My problem is that I'm loaded at running back Priest Holmes, Jamal Lewis playing against the awful Titans defense, and Kevin Jones (playing the bears) who I took first overall after 2 rounds of keepers. I can only play 3 each week so who do I bench this week? Also I'm looking at trading one of my backs for a WR, who do i look to deal? I've got solid depth at RB with Duckett, Chester Taylor, and Larry Johnson there if I need them. I definately do need another WR

51
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 5:31pm

I'd sit Kevin Jones and play the other three this week. I don't know who you can trade, though. Maybe you could trade Parker, cause he's not going to be a long-term solution.

52
by keith (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 6:19pm

I just made a trade on one of my leagues and wanted to know what all you experts thought:

Jake Plummer and Fred Taylor for Daunte Culpepper

Here is my lineup before the trade, its a 10 team 2 RB 2 WR + 1 flex league

Q Hasselbeck Plummer
R McGahee, K Jones, F Taylor, Caddilac
W D Jackson, E Kennison, Rod Smith, T Taylor
TE A Gates, M Pollard

(I'm also trying to get a WR for Pollard, as this is my obvious weakness)

53
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 6:42pm

Thanks for the archive, B, Jason. Good stuff.

Speaking of the Bears bandwagon, my contracts professor (I go to DePaul, in chicago), walked into class today, quieted everyone down, and started out with:

"You all know the berenstein bears, right?"
Nods all around
"Well, I hate to say it, but they're dissolving their marriage, and now they're in a custody fight. First they went to mama bear, and she said she wanted baby bear, but baby bear said 'you can't give me to her, she beats me!' So then they went to papa bear, but again, baby bear says 'you can't give me to him, he beats me!' So they looked around and finally decided to give him to the chicago bears, because they don't beat anyone."

54
by Björn (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 6:48pm

RE: #52

You got screwed.

55
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 6:49pm

So what you're saying is I shouldn't pick the Bears to beat the Lions in my picks pool?

56
by Mr. X (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 7:09pm

#37
True gates would have helped their chances but just like you said, they had 4 chances to win and they came up with 0%. Gates could catch TD passes all day but if the D falls apart whats the point? At that point, and it was, "he who scores last wins" and Dallas scored last.

57
by Tally (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 7:19pm

Re #56: You're missing the point. The point isn't about what would have happened if Gates were there. The point is why the Chargers, with 4 chances to win, didn't spend even one on their franchise RB.

58
by AnandaG (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 8:58pm

#52: Remember, it's always a bad idea to trade before the crack high wears off.

59
by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 9:01pm

They didn't even play action to their all-world RB.

60
by Whatever0 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 10:32pm

52: I'd say that the trade you made was pretty good. Two backups for a frontline starter is always a plus, especially when one of those backups is a major health risk. Cadillac is at least as good a fantasy option as Taylor, anyway.

To all of you guys who are saying it's a bad trade: What do you think the odds are of Taylor making it through 16 games this year? I'm putting it at about 50:50, which makes this deal gold from my perspective. Previously fragile running backs coming off major knee surgery in bad offenses where they don't get goal-line carries aren't exactly my cup of tea.

61
by Fast Eddy (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 1:08am

Re #46: This is another crazy thing that TMQ said. Of course, everyone will move to ESPN to watch NO/NYG. This will be due to the fact that the game will be going into the 2nd half. The other game will be just starting. Given that choice, I'll watch NO/NYG and come back to DAL/WAS for the 2nd half, when it gets interesting (maybe).

Plus, I don't know what universe he lives in, but personally, I have a remote that allows me to quickly jump between stations. So really, I'll be watching both games, with more emphasis on NO/NYG. What is he talking about, "All of America will follow NO/NYG to ESPN"? That's crazy talk.

62
by SJM (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 1:32pm

Re #61

I think you missed an even stronger argument.

TMQ claims that the Skins at Cowboys game will be the lowest rated MNF game ever. Of course it will be! MNF has never had to compete with another football game, much less a game which started an hour and a half earlier.

63
by skins r us (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 2:29pm

I can't believe the redskins are getting six points at dallas. The redskins lost to dallas by three points both games last year and mark brunell started one of those games.

64
by Ray (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 2:36pm

I think the general thought is that the Cowboys have improved much more this year than the 'Skins have. I'm honestly not sure how it'll go. Overall though, I think the Dallas O will have an easier time than the 'Skins O. But in the end, it'll probably be such a low-scoring game that anyone could win it by the end.

65
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 2:36pm

“All of America will follow NO/NYG to ESPN"?

It's especially crazy because some of us don't have ESPN. Ain't no way I'm heading out to a sports bar to finish watching NO/NYG, if only to continue watching the downward spiral of the Redskins continue. It's like watching an accident happen in slow motion.

66
by Jeff J. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 3:06pm

"Vivek: The treatment of Patrick Ramsey is a column all to itself. Ramsey has been beaten up by former coaches, misused and had his head messed with by Gibbs. Put him on another team, and you’ll see a serviceable starting quarterback."

I wholeheartedly concur. At my site I even penned an Ode to that very safe effect. Ramsey deserves (and deserved) better, Joe Legend or not.

67
by Jeff J (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 3:13pm

Apologies: "same" not "safe."

68
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 4:09pm

To the guy who wants to know who to start, Collins or Palmer:
I say Palmer, he's probabally the better QB, and Minny's defense is much worse than KC's defense. I'd take westbrook over edge, unless your scoring discounts receiving TDs vs rushing ones. I have no idea bout the WRs though.

69
by Al (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 4:10pm

Your friendly neighborhood columnist is asking for some advice.

We're having a bit of controversy in one of my leagues. When the commissioner set up the league scoring, he set it up to give a player two points for a fumble and to take away two points for a lost fumble. So, for a lost fumble, a player in reality doesn't lose any points (+2 for fumble -2 for loss = 0 points), but gets a bonus two points if he fumbles and someone else on the team picks it up. Chad Pennington was worth 19 points last week.

It was only noticed after week 1, because the commissioner's team lost a close matchup to a team with Donovan McNabb. If McNabb had lost points for his fumbles, the commissioner would have won. The commish and the league agreed to change the scoring going forward, but to leave the Week 1 result as it is.

Except the free leagues on Yahoo, which we use for the league, doesn't let you do that. The scoring changes have to be applied for the entire season, or not at all. So, either the stupid rule stays and the commish loses Week 1, or the stupid rule changes and the commish wins the week 1 matchup that he lost because of the scoring system he set up.

What would you do?

70
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 4:27pm

Change the scoring and the results. A different score couldn't effect how you would play that game and if I'm reading it right everyone was operating under the assumption that fumbles cost points.

I would obviously explain the situation to the other teams but if everyone agrees to change the scoring then they accept the consequences.

71
by ABW (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 6:18pm

Re: 69

That's really weird and funny that you can actually gain points for fumbling. I agree with mactbone, change the scoring system. You don't want people to be getting points for fumbling the whole season.

Now for my fantasy question. I have LaDainian Tomlinson, Rudi Johnson and Willie Parker in a league where I can only start 2 RBs. Which two do I start? Right now I have Tomlinson and Johnson starting, but I'm debating whether I can leave Parker on the bench vs. Houston's D.

72
by Nuk (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 6:34pm

I'm a FF newbie, so I'm often confused about people's rationale. Someone in my league just waived Hines Ward to pick up Frisman Jackson. Is he just gambling, or is something going on with Ward besides having one poor game? I think I'll be trying to claim Ward if I don't find any dirt on him.

73
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 7:04pm

Nuk: Claim Ward, the other guy is overreacting cause of one good game by a nobody.

74
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 7:10pm

Alas, no per-player DVOA/DPAR or detailed team DVOA this week to use in fantasy (best wishes, Aaron, whatever is going on). So I'll just have to write a "Dear Mr. Fantasy" letter here:

I start 2 WR's. Scoring is 6pts/TD, 1pt/10yds, no points for receptions.

I own: Wayne (@JAX), TJ Housh(home MIN), McCardell (@DEN), and Andre Johnson (home PIT). I'm planning on sitting Andre, because Houston's O against Pitt's D looks like a train wreck waiting to happen.

But who do I start? I'm thinking Wayne as one, but the other two are looking close. Thoughts?

75
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 8:36pm

Start House and McCardall. Andre Johnson is going to have a bad game.

76
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 9:18pm

Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown, Michael Myers, Ebenezer Ekuban and Trevor Pryce (returning from surgery) are all a step below their counterparts from last year.

Ummm... then explain to me why all 5 of them are ahead of all of their counterparts from last year on the depth chart (with the exception of the absent Reggie Hayward).

I believe that Denver's O-line has improved at every position from last year. Why? Because I believe Pryce is better than Hayward, and because Myers, Ekuban, Brown, Warren, and Engleberger are all ahead on the depth chart of every single other Denver DL who saw so much as a single snap last season.

77
by Yaxley (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 11:22pm

Re #65: I agree that a lack of ESPN will be a factor in how many people switch over. The Giants-Saints game could be great, but that wouldn't change the fact that ESPN isn't in my basic cable package. Like it or not, I'll be watching the Cowboys and Redskins kickoff.

While I'm here, I have a lineup question for this week. I have to start 3 WRs out of Reggie Wayne, Darrell Jackson, Rod Smith, and Eddie Kennison. I would think Kennison would tear it up against Oakland's secondary, but several places are calling for him to have a bad week matched up against Woodson. So who should I start?

78
by Otis Sandberg (not verified) :: Sat, 09/17/2005 - 6:08pm

Quick 'Who-to-Start' question:

2 of these 3 - Reggie Wayne, Drew Bennett, or Rod Smith. Extra credit will be given for comments/analysis!

79
by otiose (not verified) :: Sun, 09/18/2005 - 7:43am

Which three of these six would you start: Crayton, Ferguson, McCardell, Muhammad, Porter, Ward?

80
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sun, 09/18/2005 - 11:27pm

Just stopping by to thank Vivek for picking SD over Denver. I appreciate it, and don't mind any other times you want to pick against Denver in the future. :)

81
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