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» Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Denver: great team, or the greatest team? Would you be satisfied with "one of the ten greatest teams?" Plus: hard times in the NFC South, where defense goes to die.

16 Nov 2005

Scramble for the Ball: Midseason Scramblies

by Al Bogdan and Vivek Ramgopal

Al: Before we go any further, I just want to thank Ian for filling in for me these past two weeks while I was on paternity leave. The Football Outsiders Medical Leave Act only lets you miss two columns before they start cutting your salary, so unless I came back this week I'd start owing Aaron money.

The midseason mark passed us by in my absence, which means we're a week late with our midseason awards. But that's not going to stop us, is it Viv?

Vivek: Absolutely not, and welcome back. I used Eminem lyrics when Ian returned, so you'll have to do without any entrance music this week.

During the season's midpoint and after, Al and I offer our selections for both the traditional and not so traditional awards. So live from Las Vegas (well just me in Vegas and I guess not live), Scramble for the Ball is proud to present the ...

2005 Midseason Scramblie Awards

MVP

Al: Tom Brady. Trying to distinguish between the top four running backs in the league -- Edgerrin James, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander, and the rarely mentioned Tiki Barber -- is a fool's errand. You could easily make the case that each of them is the best at his position, which to me says there's no clear MVP in the group. Steve Smith is getting a lot of recent publicity, but he's not having that much better of a season than Muhsin Muhammad did last year in the same role in the same offense.

For my money, no one has been as valuable to his team as Tom Brady has been this year. He tops our DPAR rankings as the most productive quarterback in the NFL this year. With a defense that has missed somewhere between 18 and 31 games by defensive starters, depending on whose definition of "starter" you want to go by, New England's offense has needed to carry the team more than it has at any point during the Brady/Belichick era. With injuries plaguing the offensive line and running back corps, the responsibility to move the ball downfield has fallen squarely on Brady's shoulders, and he's delivered.

Vivek: Shaun Alexander. If you are going to pick a quarterback, how does Brady top Carson Palmer? Palmer's QB rating has topped 100 every week this season with the exception of the Pittsburgh game. Palmer has better overall numbers, has led his team to more victories and is right behind Brady in DPAR. I'm not taking anything away from arguably the greatest clutch QB in the history of the game, but I think that there are better candidates this year. The reason that Palmer does not get my vote though is that he has come out on the short end of the stick against the Steelers and Jaguars.

Which leads me to my choice: Shaun Alexander. How do you differentiate between that quartet of running backs? I'll give you 17 reasons why -- just look at his touchdown total. Alexander has also done more with less around him. Injuries have left a thin receiving corps around Alexander, but defenses have still not been able to limit his production. With Alexander, the Seahawks are sitting atop the NFC standings.

MVP (non-RB/QB/WR)

Vivek: Neil Rackers. No, you did not misread that. Yes, I know he is a kicker. No, this isn't one of those factual errors that made it through the editing process. Rackers is 28-for-28 on field goals this season, including 14 from beyond 40 yards. I've always preached that all kickers are made equal in terms of fantasy scoring, but let me amend that to say “with the exception of Rackers,� who has racked up (pardon the pun) 55 percent of his team's points.

The Cards have not been winning, but what Rackers is doing is amazing. He has a shot at topping Gary Anderson's 1998 season, which is regarded as the greatest single season for a kicker ever (35-for-35 field goals and 59-for-59 PATs). Apologies to Dwight Freeney, who might not have the statistics, but is commanding double teams. Not to take anything away from his teammate Robert Mathis, but the double teaming of Freeney is one reason that Mathis is leading the NFL in sacks.

Al: Walter Jones. The best player on one of the best units in football. Shaun Alexander and the Seattle offense has hit the ground running this year in large part because Jones didn't have his annual training camp/early season holdout. With Jones blocking for them for a full season, Alexander is on pace to break the NFL single season touchdown record and Matt Hasselbeck is on pace to pass for close to 4000 yards.

Season-Long Keep Choppin' Wood Award (Least Valuable Player)

Al: Jamal Lewis. I guess spending four months in a federal penitentiary isn't the best way to get ready to play during your contract year. In just two years, Lewis has gone from a 2000-yard workhorse to a first round Loser League selection. At this point, Chester Taylor is the best back on the Ravens roster, by any measure you choose to look at, whether it's DPAR, DVOA, or simple yards per carry.

Vivek: QB Ravens. Remember Tecmo Super Bowl for Nintendo, the one that had to have QB Eagles instead of Randall Cunningham and QB Browns instead of Bernie Kosar? Well, I'll take a page out of TSB's book and give this award to QB Ravens, basically whoever is behind center for any given game. This could have been a monster season for Al's award recipient with the potential of an aerial attack, but as in the past, it has been non-existent. Anthony Wright was not able to move the ball, which had fans hoping for a quick return by Kyle Boller. (That just sounds odd to say.) As a whole, QB Ravens has six touchdowns and 13 interceptions, for a stellar 66.4 quarterback rating.

Biggest Fantasy Bust -- General Population Division

Al: Daunte Culpepper. More fantasy seasons have been destroyed by Culpepper than by any other player this season. Last season, Culpepper averaged 25.8 fantasy points per game in a basic scoring system. This season without center Matt Birk, Randy Moss, or an effective running game backing him up, Culpepper has averaged a paltry 14 points per game.

Vivek: A no-brainer here, emphasized by the fact that he was a consensus top seven pick.

Biggest Fantasy Bust -- Pro Football Prospectus 2005 Readers Division

Al: Kevin Jones. Yeah, so it looks like he won't be leading the league in rushing this year. I'd still recommend trading for him now from a frustrated owner because of the great schedule Detroit has over the rest of the season.

Biggest Fantasy Surprise

Al: Joey Galloway. Raise your hand if you thought Tampa would have the #2 wide receiver in fantasy football. Now keep it raised if you thought it would be Galloway and not last season's rookie sensation Michael Clayton. After nine games, the soon to be 34-year-old receiver already has more touchdowns than he has had in a season since 1998. Galloway needs only another 188 receiving yards to top his career high set back in 1997. If Galloway can keep up this pace, he'll finish the year with over 1,500 receiving yards.

Galloway's late-career resurgence is unprecedented in NFL history. Galloway would eclipse his career high in receiving yards by over 400 in his eleventh year in the league. Only six receivers have set a career high so out of line with their past performance as late as their eighth or ninth seasons in the league, and only Rob Moore with the 1997 Cardinals has done it after having a 1,000 yard season earlier in his career.

Vivek: Santana Moss. Moss was regarded as a very good second receiver, but never one that would take over a game. During the offseason, he was traded to a team without a solid option at quarterback and one that could potentially hand the ball off 25-30 times a game. The KUBIAK projections had Moss as the 22nd best receiver. Lo and behold, Moss is two yards away from being the top receiver in the NFL and has the same amount of touchdowns as his namesake in Oakland.

Worst Offseason Move -- Just as Bad as Expected

Al: Green Bay replaces Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera with William Whitticker and Adrian Klemm/Scott Wells. In 2004 Green Bay had arguably the two best guards in football. According to our offensive line statistics, the Packers were #2 in the league at power success (running on third or fourth down and less than two yards or on any down inside the two-yard line), #8 in the league in preventing runs from being stuffed, and #12 overall in adjusted line yards. This year, with Wahle in Carolina and Rivera in Dallas, the Packers are in the bottom half of the league in both power success and in preventing runs from being stuffed, and in the bottom five overall in adjusted line yards. If you want some explanations for why the Packers are at the bottom of the worst division in football, the loss of Wahle and Rivera is a perfect place to start.

Vivek: Travis Henry. A four-game suspension for substance abuse and only three carries since Week Two. This is not what the Titans had in mind when they traded a third-round draft pick for Henry and awarded him a four-year contract extension. We knew that it would be tough for Henry to duplicate his 2002 and 2003, but it has been nothing but a nightmare in his return to the state of Tennessee. With Chris Brown firmly entrenched as the feature back, it will be 2006 before Henry makes an impact.

Worst Offseason Move -- Unexpectedly Bad

Al: Minnesota signs Fred Smoot. Smoot signed with Minnesota in hopes that he would bolster one of the worst pass defenses in football. After an incredible 2004 season with the top defense in football, the Redskins, Smoot was expected to line up opposite Antoine Winfield to form the best pair of cornerbacks in the NFC North. Instead, Smoot has made more noise off the field than on. He engaged in a war of words with Steve Smith leading up to Minnesota's game against Carolina, in which Smith torched Smoot for 201 yards and Fred committed four penalties. And of course, Smoot is allegedly the man who chartered Al & Alma's Supper Club and Charter Cruises for the infamous team jaunt onto Lake Minnetonka. Oh, and the Vikings still have an awful pass defense.

Vivek: Phillip Buchanan. The Texans gave up a second and a third round pick for the former Raiders cornerback. Now he is stuck behind Dunta Robinson and DeMarcus Faggins on the depth charts.

Al: I think the biggest surprise is that there are two NFL players named DeMarcus playing in Texas.

Best Offseason Move -- Just as Good as Expected

Al: Washington signs center Casey Rabach. Last year, the Redskins were in the bottom third of the league at running up the middle and second to last in the league in power running situations. Washington went out and signed the best center on the market, and lo and behold, the team has moved up eight spots in our power running rankings and eleven spots on runs up the middle. The rejuvenation of Mark Brunell and the addition of Santana Moss are being given a lot of credit for the improvement in the Washington offense, but don't underestimate the impact that Rabach, and the return of left tackle Jon Jansen from an Achilles' tendon injury, have had on allowing the Redskins to move the ball more effectively.

Vivek: What this year's Redskins team has is stability on the offensive line. Last year's was a patchwork line that was decimated by injuries and ineffectiveness.

Best Offseason Move -- Unexpectedly Good

Al: Denver imports the Cleveland defensive line. Why weren't these guys this good in Cleveland? According to our adjusted line yard statistic, the 2004 Browns had the second worst defensive line in football. In, Denver, however, Ebenezer Ekuban, Michael Myers, Courtney Brown and Gerard Warren have done a great job and helped turn linebacker Ian Gold into, almost, a household name.

Vivek: Plaxico Burress. I'll admit that I was wrong about Burress coming to the Meadowlands. I thought that this was a classic case of overpaying for one good season in the past, but he has become Eli Manning's favorite target. Burress is on pace to finish the season with 85 receptions, 1255 yards, and nine touchdowns.

Best Coaching Job

Vivek: Single decision -- Dick Vermeil going for the win against Oakland. Of course Russell Levine might have given Vermeil the Mike Martz/John L. Smith award if the Chiefs were not successful on the play, but it's a moot point since the Chiefs came out on top. The Raiders were moving the ball at will against the Chiefs defense, and with Sebastian Janikowski, one big pass play in overtime could have set up the potential game-winning field goal. A loss would have dropped the Chiefs into a last place tie and a greater dogfight for the playoffs.

Vivek: Season long -- Mike Holmgren. Mike Holmgren has gotten his defense to play a lot better, even without the presence of defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes, who has missed time for health reasons. The team lost Ken Lucas in the offseason, but has not missed a beat, en route to a 7-2 record and the best record in the NFC.

Al: Lovie Smith. After Rex Grossman went down yet again with an injury, no one would have blinked if the Bears once again became a playoff afterthought. Smith, however, didn't let his team fall apart and somehow has them in first place, with a two game lead over the rest of the division. Outside of Seattle, there isn't a better bet to make the playoffs in the NFC than Chicago. Smith deserves all the credit in the world for making that happen in only his second year as head coach with an overmatched rookie at quarterback.

Worst Coaching Job

Vivek: Dom Capers. It's really unfair to put this all on Capers, but someone has to be accountable for how much the Texans have regressed. Capers has still not given David Carr any pass protection and has not gotten the most out of his trio of potential stars at the skill positions.

Al: Jim Haslett. Probably no other coach in NFL history has had to deal with what Haslett has this season after Hurricane Katrina turned the Saints into a traveling road show. If anything similar happens in the future, coaches will be well served to look back at the job Haslett has done as a great example of what not to do. After the Saints won their Week 1 game against Carolina, many thought the Saints would take inspiration from the thousands of their fans affected by Katrina and make a strong run in the NFC. The only thing the Saints have been making a run at since Week 1, however, is the top pick in the 2006 draft.

Best Draft Pick

Al: San Diego -- Luis Castillo. Castillo was slowly rising up draft boards this off-season before it was revealed that he had tested positive for andro at the NFL combine. Castillo admitted to taking the banned substance so that he could recover from an elbow injury, and sent a letter to every NFL team explaining what happened and stating that he'd be willing to give back his signing bonus if he ever tested positive for steroids in the future. The Chargers selected Castillo with the 28th overall pick, higher than many draft boards had him going before his positive drug test. Castillo has responded by becoming a force on San Diego's defensive line. He has done a great job at absorbing offensive linemen, allowing fellow rookie Shawne Merriman to make plays in the backfield.

Vivek: Dallas -- DeMarcus Ware. Bill Parcells hit the jackpot in the draft with DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears, enabling the Cowboys to institute a 3-4 defense. To this point, Ware has outplayed his rookie counterpart, with 25 tackles and four sacks. (Don't be surprised if Matt Jones has this award at the end of the season.)

Worst Draft Pick (non-Nugent division)

Al: Detroit -- Mike Williams. Matt Millen signed a five year contract extension this off-season, so you know what that means -- five more years of first round wide receiver draft selections. The last thing Detroit needed going into the draft was another wide receiver, especially one who hadn't played organized football in over a year. The three players selected after Williams, defensive end DeMarcus Ware, linebacker Shawn Merriman, and offensive tackle Jammal Brown, would have better filled needs for the Lions and have made immediate impacts on the teams that actually drafted them this season.

Vivek: Tennessee -- Pacman Jones. This could also be the Maurice Clarett division, but that would be too easy of a pick. The game has not really started for Pacman, the 6th overall pick in the draft. Jones has no interceptions, no forced fumbles, one postgame scuffle with an opposing coach and an arrest on his resume so far. He is one of the primary reasons that the Titans have failed to shut down opposing receivers. Case in point: Jerry Porter burned Jones twice for touchdowns on Halloween.

Play of the Season

Al: Chicago's missed FG return for a TD against San Francisco. The missed field goal returned for a touchdown is easily my favorite play in football. You only see this play once every few seasons, but Nathan Vasher's touchdown return against the 49ers this past Sunday was as predictable of one as is possible. The decision to attempt a 52-yard field goal in that situation was terrible given the conditions in Soldier Field. Robbie Gould's first quarter miss from only 39 yards heading in the same direction in the first quarter was so comically bad that Fox broke into other games to show the ball being blown out of bounds by the wind. Has a network ever broken into another game to show a highlight from a first quarter missed field goal?

Nothing good was going to come out of the field goal attempt. The Niners should have just kneelt on the ball and walked into the locker room with a lead. Instead, the Bears did the logical thing and placed Vasher in the end zone to await the inevitable short kick. The Bears special teams did a great job blocking for Vasher, who set an NFL record for the longest touchdown in league history with his return.

Not to digress too much, but that's the lamest record in the NFL. With no yard markers in the end zone, can you really say with any accuracy that Vasher's "108-yard" return was longer than Chris McAlister's "107-yard" missed field goal return from 2002? Why do players get extra credit for return yardage if they catch the ball deep in the end zone, but receivers don't get extra yardage for the same thing? If Randy Moss "dots the i" in the back corner of the end zone instead of at the front corner, the NFL doesn't give him eight extra yards. Either give a player credit for the extra end zone yards or don't give a player credit. The return/non-return distinction makes no sense.

Best TV Segment

Al: Michael Irvin reviews touchdown celebrations. I've only seen this once, so I'm not sure if this is a running feature on Sportscenter or was just a one-time occurrence, but Michael Irvin's recap of the week's touchdown celebrations was the best two minutes of programming I've seen on ESPN outside of PTI this year. Just a tour de force. Irvin spends the entire segment ripping all over the players whose performances he is reviewing, making inside jokes, using references that maybe one percent of the audience understands, while laughing at himself the entire time. Like Danny Bonaduce, this segment is a complete train wreck, but fascinatingly entertaining to watch.

Vivek: Kenny Mayne's feature on the Burger King. A very good, hard-hitting interview which answers questions like: "Why isn't the King fined for uniform violations?" and "How can he play on multiple teams?" Murrow Award worthy.

Can I also nominate our fearless leader's appearances on ESPNEWS? Can I suck up with the best of them or what?

Worst TV Segment

Al: I Like It, I Love It. You're telling me Tim McGraw has nothing better to do on Mondays than to record a new version of his hit song with terrible lyrics about the previous day's NFL action? Isn't this guy married to Faith Hill?

Best Commercial

Al: The King. There's just something hilarious about a man wearing a royal cape and an oversized king mask picking off Drew Bledsoe and taking it to the house. The recent BK commercials have somewhat diluted the King's appeal, but the original is still the best commercial of the year.

Vivek: Gatorade Winning Formula. It's not NFL-specific, but includes a "what if Dwight Clark never made The Catch" clip. I love technology.

Worst Commercial

Vivek: The King. I still wake up in the middle of the night after having nightmares about that damn King.

Al: Peyton Manning cheers for the common man. I was a big fan of last year's "Cut That Meat" commercial, but this year's version of Manning acting like a football fan at your average job is a bit too condescending for my tastes. Asking the guy stocking shelves at the supermarket to sign a loaf of bread is pretty insulting coming from someone who pocketed over $34 million in bonus money over the past year and a half.

Best Commentators

Al: Dick Stockton/Daryl Johnston/Tony Siragusa. Stockton has a great voice and is a very solid, nuts and bolts play-by-play man. Johnston is a very understated but astute observer of a game. He doesn't overwhelm you with his analysis, but will more often than not point out something that I missed watching the play live. That's all I want out of my announcing team, and Stockton and Johnston deliver.

Although he can get a bit too schticky at times, Siragusa is the best sideline reporter in all of sports. Sideline reporters normally bring nothing to the table unless they're getting information about a player's injury. This isn't meant to denigrate the individuals who work on the sidelines, but to criticize the role that the networks put them in. Getting a head coach to tell you at the end of the first half that his team "needs to cut down on mistakes" or some other cliché does nothing for me. Cutting to the sideline reporter so s/he can tell me that player X is a great person and serves food at a local soup kitchen when he's not helping old ladies cross the street is even less valuable to the broadcast.

With Siragusa, however, you have someone analyzing the play on the field from a unique vantage point that the announcers in the broadcast booth can't get. He's an incredibly valuable contributor to their broadcast and I'm amazed the other networks haven't hired other former players to serve in the same role.

Worst Commentators

Al: Sam Rosen/Bill Maas. Just so we don't look like too much of a kiss up to our friends over at Fox Sports, I'll give my vote to a Fox broadcast team. This one pains me to write, as I have a Sam Rosen/John Davidson dual bobblehead sitting on my entertainment center at home. But the Rosen/Maas pairing is extremely difficult to listen to. There is never a second of silence during one of their broadcasts. Maas occasionally does give some good insights into the game and Rosen is fine as a play by play man, but those quality moments get lost in the sheer volume of commentary produced by this pairing.

Best Touchdown Celebration

Vivek: Chad Johnson's Riverdance. Admit it, after a few beverages that afternoon, you tried to do it as well.

Al: Deion Branch as Kid n' Play. In a season that has seen a good number of over the top touchdown celebrations, Branch's 80's throwback after scoring against the Colts in Week 8 was my favorite. With the goalpost standing in for Play, Branch acted like a Kid at a House Party rocking the step-step-kick, backstep-backstep, step-step-kick. Just another example of how Branch is a true Class Act.

Jeff Kent Award (Biggest Lie to Conceal the Cause of an Injury)

Vivek: Chicago right tackle Fred Miller ended his streak of 110 consecutive starts because of a broken jaw. He initially told the organization that he woke up in the middle of the night and possibly fell down because of a child's toy on the stairs. What really happened? Teammate Olin Kreutz landed a punch during a fight last week.

Lessons Learned From Week 10

Lesson 1 -- Never Go to Bed Before 11:30 on a Monday During the Fall

Al: One thing I've learned in my extensive two weeks of parenting experience is that when you get an opportunity to sleep when there's an infant in your house, you take it. So with the Eagles up by two scores in the fourth quarter and my daughter sound asleep, I decided to call it a night.

When I went to bed, it wasn't a very restful sleep, however. I was worried about this week's upcoming Giants game against Philadelphia. The Eagles team I had seen on Monday night wasn't the same one I had seen for the first half of the year. The one I had seen on Monday was the one that had given the Giants fits over the past few seasons. Brian Westbrook was running the ball effectively -- not a good sign since he's destroyed New York in the past and the Giants are without William Joseph for the next month. Donovan looked like the McNabb of old, moving outside of the pocket to give his backs and tight ends a few more seconds to get open. Lito Sheppard and the Eagles secondary were giving Drew Bledsoe fits by shutting down Terry Glenn and looking like the perennial Pro Bowl players that they have been in the past.

So you can imagine my surprise when I woke up Tuesday morning and saw that the Eagles blew the game in the last five minutes, pretty much knocking themselves out of playoff contention in the strong NFC East. Plus, I found out that there's a realistic chance that the immortal Mike McMahon will be starting against the Giants in the Meadowlands on Sunday. I'm going to sleep much better the rest of the week.

Lesson 2 -- The NFL Game Is Getting Very Sloppy (Penalties)

Vivek: Watching football is never going to be as painful as watching the end of an NBA game, but the number of penalties is really slowing the game down. This year, eleven teams are averaging eight or more penalties per game, compared to two teams for all of last year. It seems like a good portion of these penalties are offsides, false starts and illegal procedures -- this is all a result of poor practice habits.

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

Vivek: Terrell Owens had to be laughing at his own funeral after Reggie Brown dropped the softest toss in the history of the NFL (maybe not, but exaggeration helps my case) with less than a minute left in the game. The catch would have left David Akers with a 35-yard field goal versus the 60-yarder he missed as time ran out.

Scramble for the Ball Mailbag

Send your fantasy football questions each week to scramble@footballoutsiders.com, or fill out our contact form.

David has two questions, one about keepers, and another about trade possibilities:

I've got a keeper question. In an eight team league, which three players do you recommend I keep for next year: Brown RB, Bell RB, S. Jackson RB, Plummer QB, M. Anderson RB, K. Jones RB and Culpepper QB? (Incidentally, you start: 2 QB/2 RB/3 WR/1 TE/1 DEF&ST/1 K/1 Flex. That flex can be a QB, a RB, a TE or a WR.)

And, no, I'm not one of the livid Broncos fans. I just happened to end up with those guys, plus Rod Smith and Jason Elam. Odd, really.

I've got a trade question also. I'm in sixth place out of eight teams. You'd think I'd be out of it, but the league leader's at 5-4 and I'm 3-4-1. So, anyway, the regular season ends after Week 13 and the top four teams get in. (Each round of the playoffs is allotted two weeks to minimize the effects of end-of-the-year roster silliness.)

The point being, I have this deal on the table: I give up Ward WR and Brown RB for R. Johnson RB and Jurevicious WR. Do I do this deal? Or, since I get to keep three guys from this year's roster, should I just start building for next year?

Al: I'd make that trade even if you are playing for next year. Rudi Johnson is a legit #1 fantasy RB. If you can get him for Ward and part of a RBBC (I'm asusming you mean Ronnie Brown, but the suggestion is the same even if it's Chris), you have to make that trade. As for your keepers, I'd keep your newly acquired Johnson, Jackson and K. Jones for next year. That's a very solid foundation to build your team around.

Vivek: I'm not going to let go of Culpepper so fast. You need to start two quarterbacks, and not holding onto any means that you might wind up starting someone the caliber of Kyle Orton or J.P. Losman.

Chris L asks us to answer one of the great mysteries of fantasy football:

I have Eli Manning and Jake Plummer on my fantasy team, and five weeks out of eight that they both played, I picked incorrectly (and on one of the other three, the difference was only a point). How do you pick between two capable but inconsistent players?

Al: There's no sure fire way for this to work 100 percent of the time. If you're going to go by committee at a fantasy position, you're assuming the risk that you'll start the wrong player each week. I usually base my decision on a combination of the player's performance so far this season and the quality of the corresponding aspect of the opposing defense, based on DVOA, with the player's past performance getting more weight than strength of opponent. I was hurt by this, however, just this past week when I chose to start Eli Manning against the previously awful Viking pass defense instead of Mark Brunell against the previously solid Tampa D.

Vivek: For this year, Plummer has been the safer bet, throwing 13 touchdowns to only three interceptions. This production has dubbed him "No Mistake Jake." If you are in a league that penalizes for incomplete passes, Manning's inaccuracy can hurt you.

Darrell H writes:

Gents, didn't get to see the Pittsburgh/Cleveland game. Why were there only zeros for Heath Miller? Did he play? Injured? Unproductive?

Al: Miller played, but only had one pass thrown in his direction -- at the beginning of the fourth quarter when he was double covered. You weren't the only one asking where Miller was on Sunday. Bill Cowher actually had a bit of a snippy response when talking about Miller's lack of production on Sunday in his postgame press conference: "He played very solid tonight. If you get the ball anywhere near him, he'll catch it. He's a big part of our offense, it just didn't materialize tonight. The receivers caught some passes. Sometimes people ask why we didn't throw it to the receivers; if we throw it to the receivers, people ask why we didn't throw it to Heath. If we throw it to both, people will ask why we didn't run the ball more."

Randy writes in:

1) I got trounced last week with the Washington Defense, which netted me minus-six points. Please tell me which one of these curmudgeon defenses I should use this week off my waiver wire: WAS, CLE, DET, STL, SD, NYJ,or TEN?

2) Which two WRs would you start? C.Chambers, J.Jurevicius, R.Smith, R.Ferguson, B.Stokely, B.Finneran, or Brandon Jones.

3) Which two RBs would you start? Heath Evans, Patrick Pass, K.Jones, C.Brown, A.Peterson, or M.Bennett.

4) And last but not least, B.Troupe or M.Pollard for TE?

Al: 1) Go with the Rams at home against the Cardinals. They should get you a couple of picks.
2) Rod Smith and Jurevicius.
3) Kevin Jones and Bennett.
4) Dallas has been worse against tight ends than Jacksonville has, so go with Pollard.

Vivek: 1) I have been using rankings from The Most Valuable Network on Friday to pick defenses each week. Like Al said, the Rams are the only team that has a quasi-favorable matchup.
2) Jurevicius and Rod Smith as well.
3) As soon as I jumped onto the Bennett bandwagon, Mike Tice announced that Mewelde Moore will start against Green Bay. Use Chris Brown instead of Bennett.
4) Pollard.

Tommy S. asks us to rank some players for the upcoming week:

Please rank the following players for my Flex League: C.Brown, C.Chambers, F.Gore, J.Jurevicius, M.Alstott, J.Bettis, Heath Evans, M.Moore, M.Bennet, M.Faulk, and A.Peterson.

Al: With as many backups and parts of committees as you have at running back, it's all going to depend on the final injury report. Bennett against Green Bay has to be at the top of the list. Bettis and Brown both will get carries but have bad matchups. I'd have to put them ahead of either of your wide receivers, though. I like Jurevicius more than Chambers because of his matchup. The ranking of Peterson, Gore, and Evans depends completely on the status of the players ahead of them on their teams' depth charts.

Vivek: As of today: Brown, Chambers, Jurevicius, Moore, Peterson, Faulk, Bennett, Bettis, Gore, Alstott.

Russ asks:

I play in a league where TEs are not required (you can start 3 WRs). This week, should I start Tony Gonzalez (vs. Hou) or Bobby Engram (vs. SF)? In the QB slot, should I start Tom Brady (vs NO) or Trent Green?

Al: I'd go with Engram and Brady, although you should be fine if you start the other two instead.

Vivek: This is as much of a wash as you can get, but my picks would be Gonzalez and Green. You can get a nice package points deal for both of them. The Texans are almost at the bottom of the league in terms of passing defense DVOA versus tight ends.

Ray G. writes:

I have a few Fantasy Football quandaries this week that I'd love some advice on.

First: Favre vs. Min or Bledsoe vs. Det? I'm leaning towards Favre because Detroit's secondary has made some plays this year.

Second: Which two to play of these three receivers? Driver vs. Min, Branch vs. NO, or Chambers at Cle? I sat Chambers last week and missed out on his two TDs. Was last week a fluke?

Third: This is more a matchup issue, but which of these two should I start? Johnson vs. Ind or Gado vs. Min? Was Gado last week a fluke? I'm also worried that the Cincy vs. Indy game could turn into a shootout leaving Johnson largely out of the picture. Who knows what will happen in Green Bay.

Al: 1) I tend to agree with you, I'd play Favre as well. Bledsoe's been the better QB this year, but I'm expecting big things from the Packers on Sunday.
2) Driver and Branch. I don't like relying on Chambers. You never really know what to expect out of the Dolphins passing attack.
3) You have to start Rudi Johnson. He's seventh in the NFL in rushing yards going against a below average run defense.

Vivek: 1) Bledsoe against a poor Minnesota pass defense.
2) Driver and Branch
3) The only reason you don't start Johnson is so that you can scream out "SAMKON GADO!" Rudi is a must.

Loser League Report

Data for the first week of Part II should show up later this week, but here are your all-stars from Week 10:

QB: The immortal Brooks Bollinger, -4 points (98 yards passing, 4 INT)
RB: Michael Bennett, 0 points (16 yards rushing, 11 yards receiving, fumble)
RB: Edsel Williams, 0 points (20 yards rushing, fumble)
WR: Mark Clayton, 0 points (3 yards receiving)
WR: Numerous players tied with 1 point
K: Rian Lindell, -2 points (2 XP, 2 missed FG)

Best Bets

Al: (2-1 three weeks ago, 18-8 overall)

The calendar has turned the page into November, so it's time to whip out THE SYSTEM!. For you new readers out there, THE SYSTEM! was developed by Anthony Brancato, who discovered that "one of the worst bets you can make in the NFL is to wager on a team that plays their home games either in a dome or in a warm climate when such a team has to play on the road at a northern, outdoor site from November 1st onward." Although THE SYSTEM! didn't fare as well last year as it has in the past, I'm going to stick with it this week.

GREEN BAY -4.0 over Minnesota

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that the Vikings won't get three return touchdowns again this week. Plus, THE SYSTEM! works best in late afternoon or evening games.

NEW ENGLAND -10.0 over New Orleans

The Saints have lost their last three official road games by an average of 25.7 points.

WASHINGTON -6.0 over Oakland

A loss here would pretty much knock the Redskins out of playoff contention in the NFC. I like their chances of coming through against Oakland at home.

Vivek: (1-2 last week, 13-20 overall)

For those of you wondering, my picks don't do any better in Vegas.

Miami +2.0 over CLEVELAND

The Williams-Brown running back tandem has not worked for the Dolphins yet, as Ricky Williams has not been effective. Add an inconsistent Gus Frerotte, and this matchup favors the Browns on paper ... but I am going with those intangibles. Here's betting that the Dolphins keep the momentum going from last week's near win against New England.

Seattle -12.0 over SAN FRANCISCO

See my pick for MVP.

Kansas City -6.5 over HOUSTON

The Chiefs were embarrassed by their performance against the Bills last week, and deservedly so. The Texans will be a sparring partner, as Trent Green makes amends to fantasy owners for last week's performance.

Posted by: scramble on 16 Nov 2005

105 comments, Last at 10 Mar 2006, 11:00am by jore

Comments

1
by TomS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 3:11pm

In reference to THE SYSTEM!: see Global Warming! That Northern Indoor/Outdoor differential might just be getting narrower!

2
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 3:27pm

Chris L here. Thanks for the help. Looks like I'll be playing the part of the Packers this year - I have the most points in the league, but am in danger of missing the playoffs. I hate my QBs.

3
by Dennis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 3:38pm

Why do players get extra credit for return yardage if they catch the ball deep in the endzone, but receivers don’t get extra yardage for the same thing?

Because it's a different endzone. The return started in the defensive endzone whereas the catch occurred in the offensive endzone. If it was possible to start an offensive play from 8 yards back in your own endzone, the receiver would get credit for the extra yardage.

4
by noahpoah (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 3:42pm

With regard to Jamal Lewis' terrible year, does anyone else remember the sports guy discussing an email from a reader who works in a correctional facility who said that Lewis' season was likely to be awful, as he undoubtedly lost a considerable amount of muscle mass eating crappy food and not working out with professional trainers and the like?

Sounds convinving to me, which is not to say that the Ravens' line has nothing to do with it.

5
by Gonzo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 3:45pm

Yes, because that whole "System" thing worked so well the last time the Vikings visited Lambeau Field.

The Vikings might not get 3 return TDs on Monday night. . .the Vikings also, most likely, won't turn it over 4 times like the Falcons did. . .and the Packers, most likely, won't suddenly become the hottest defense in the National Football League like the team the Vikings played last week.

Also, I don't think Samwise Gamjee or whatever his name is is going to go for 100+ and 3 scores, either.

6
by Lemon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 3:48pm

Vivek: 1) Bledsoe against a poor Minnesota pass defense.

I think you mean Favre. Or Detroit.

7
by Art (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 3:56pm

I'm not sure how Dan Diedorf got left out of worse announcing crew.

8
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 3:59pm

As long as Al and Vivek have opened the door by mentioning TV things...

Does anyone know why (and for how long) NFL Primetime uses the same background music for Bills highlights every week (and has for at least three years)? And do they do this for any other team? And how lame am I for noticing?

9
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 3:59pm

Great moments in misread lines:

What the article actually said:
Stockton has a great voice and is a very solid, nuts and bolts play-by-play man.

What my rapidly reading eyes saw:
Stockton has a great voice and very solid nuts for a play man.

Too much information!

10
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:05pm

More fantasy seasons have been destroyed by Culpepper than by any other player this season.

I wouldn't be so sure. Look at what Jamal Lewis, Kevin Jones, Julius Jones, Curtis Martin, Corey Dillon, and others have done. A lot of top RBs have done nothing.
I drafted 11th out of 12 in 2 of my leagues, and 10th out of 10 in the 3rd. I wanted to be drafting 3rd, but it was random and I got screwed every time. In each league, I drafted Jamal Lewis 11th overall. I'm around .500 in each league, and Jamal Lewis and Andre Johnson have tainted what was otherwise pretty damn good drafting (especially for a fantasy draft newbie).

11
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:06pm

On the Sam vs. Rudi question:

Either way, Sean Astin gets a residual, right?

12
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:09pm

To be honest, I wish all publications would hand out their midseason awards after week 10. I mean, sure, technically it's not exactly halfway through the season, but neither is when they write THEIR awards, unless they do it after the early games in week 9. If you wait until after week 10, though, every team will have finally played an equal number of games, and it's a lot easier to compare teams, players, and stats.

13
by Mike Tice (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:11pm

How do I not win worst coaching job??
I demand a recount!

14
by Mike W (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:23pm

Re #4, yeah, Simmons wrote that. BTW, we have a keeper league (three keepers, only one RB allowed), and before the draft a guy traded a mid-round pick for Jamal Lewis, and he already had Steven Jackson. Needless to say, we've been crucifying him (he's 2-8) all year.

15
by Brad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:26pm

#5

Why does everyone always get so defensive when someone picks against their team? It's just his opinion calm down.

I'm a niners fan, you don't see me raising hell at my team being "historically bad" (in a way, I'm rather proud).

16
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:28pm

Also, sorry for the double post, but I don't think Alexander wins the MVP over Tomlinson, in my book. Both have put up stellar numbers, but Tomlinson did it behind a much worse Oline. That's always been the knock on Alexander, and the reason why the Seahawks didn't sign him to a longterm contract, while the Chargers made Tomlinson the highest paid back in the NFL; scouts and coaches have always felt that Alexander didn't fight for the tough yardage, he just took what his offensive line gave him (which in this case is quite a lot).

And I don't think you can blame QB Ravens for Lewis's suck when Lewis is second-to-last in DVOA, and his backup is #1, at least after week 8.

17
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:40pm

#5: You obviously don't understand the genius of THE SYSTEM!.

Sid: I'm in a similar situation. I had 8/12 in my league, but then had some nice insult to injury with Jones, Burleson, Dillon, Bulger, Roethlisberger, and for a week Housh were injured. I might've forgotten someone. So I'm playing Green Bay right now... despite being 3rd in points I'm 5th in the league with a patchwork team because I blew everyone out and when I lost, lost terribly (last week I scored 1/3rd the points of my opponent! and all my players' teams won!)

18
by Tim (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:41pm

Vivek: Terrell Owens had to be laughing at his own funeral after Reggie Brown dropped the softest toss in the history of the NFL (maybe not, but exaggeration helps my case) with less than a minute left in the game. The catch would have left David Akers with a 35-yard field goal versus the 60-yarder he missed as time ran out.

You can pick on Reggie Brown for his performance in general, but if you saw the replay, the Dallas defender clearly reached around Brown as the two were going down and knocked the ball out of Brown's hands while they were still extended from his body. It would have been awfully impressive (though no one would have said so) if Brown had actually held on to the ball despite that.

19
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:41pm

Actually, you can say with a reasonable degree of accuracy how long Vasher's return was. In fact, if I recall correctly, McAlister's return was initially listed as 109 yards, but was changed to 107 after they analyzed the tape to see where he caught the kick. It's pretty easy these days to overlay a yard-by-yard grid on an image of the end zone. I wonder why one of the networks doesn't do that automatically?

However, you should be happy to know that the NCAA does it your way, Al (pun intended). Anything returned from the end zone is officially a 100-yard return.

The entire halftime of MNF is a waste of time, although I suppose it goes along just fine with the rest of ABC's telecasts - blocking the screen with the starting lineups, precious few player stats during the game (hello? CBS does a great job with this. Learn something.), the always-helpful close-in shot of the quarterback's head as the offense approaches the line of scrimmage (Look! It hasn't fallen off yet!), the Horse Trailer players of the game (I'm waiting for Madden to pick all 22 starters once), and of course this is the time of year when turducken rears its ugly head.

ESPN's collection of helmet-to-helmet hits and spearing plays isn't any better. I'd love to see a network show big hits that are actually legal, just for a change.

Hey, don't knock Peyton! It's not like Irsay's a little short on cash because of that bonus check and is asking us to pick up the tab for his new playground ... oh, wait.

I'm not sure I agree with your MVP and non-MVP selections. Shaun Alexander is the high-profile MVP, in part because he has the low-profile MVP Walter Jones blocking for him? Doesn't that make what LDT does a little more impressive? Shouldn't Brady get more props because he doesn't have that kind of line?

Baltimore's RB is the problem. No, wait, Baltimore's QBs are the problem. If they both stink, don't they both contribute to each other's poor performance? Surely there's another QB out there who has less to say for himself ... or maybe the true non-MVP is the Baltimore o-line?

20
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:43pm

Great column, once again. A few points.

THE SYSTEM is not as applicable in the case of Vikings at Lambeau. For whatever reason, the Vikings tend to play much better there than at other outdoor venues, even when the Packers are good.

Maybe it is time to consider making illegal procedure and encroachment 10 yard penalties, so as to convince teams to practice better.

I love how Miller tossed his kid under the bus, blaming him for the injury, rather than rat out Kreutz. Oughta make for a great lecture on the importance honesty by Miller the Elder, when the Miller the Younger is about fifteen. I hope the brat keeps a scrapbook.

As long as Patrick, Maguire, and Theismann occupy the same booth, there are no other contenders for worst broadcast team.

The Vikings may win worst blown draft opportunity for drafting in the first round, in order, Troy Williamson and Erasmus James, instead of Demarcus Ware and Matt Jones.

21
by Al\'s Credibility (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:50pm

Going...

"MVP Al-Tom Brady"

Going...

"Best Touchdown Celebration Al: Deion Branch as Kid n’ Play"

Gone.

22
by admin :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:59pm

Given that Al talks about being a Giants fan and living in New York in about half the Scramble columns, I'm guessing that guy is new.

23
by Al (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:02pm

3: But why does that matter? The back of your own end zone has no independent significance from the front of your own endzone. Why count the extra yardage, especially since there aren't yard markers back there?

4: Yup, I remember that email from Simmons' column. I wasn't high on Lewis to begin with, but that definitely swayed me against him even further.

7: For some reason, I don't mind Dierdoff as much on CBS as I did when he was in the MNF booth.

10: Speaking from personal experience, I have the Jones and Martin in various leagues, and my teams are near the top of all of those league. I think the impact of blowing a mid-late first round pick on a QB is typically more damagin thatn blowing one on a RB for reasons I can't fully articulate right now. It's something I might look at over the offseason if I can figure out a way to quantify such a thing.

24
by Al (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:04pm

How can you not appreciate the Kid n' Play?

25
by Mike Sherman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:10pm

#13

Because you're not the worst coach in the NFL.

You're not even the worst coach in the NFC.

You're not even the worst coach in the NFC North.

You're not even the worst coach in the NFC North whose first name happens to be Mike.

26
by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:17pm

Would it be acceptable to bench Chad Johnson this week against IND? My other options are Rod Smith and Kennison.

Also, which two RBs would people recommend: Dillon, Martin, Droughns, Peterson/T. Jones?

(there's a reason why I'm in last place)

27
by Kevo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:22pm

I'm shocked.

Tony Siragusa mentioned, not in the "Worst Commentator" category, but in the "Best"?

He is unlistenable. I've never heard anything come out of his mouth that didn't kill a few brain cells.

28
by James (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:22pm

I’ll give you 17 reasons why — just look at his touchdown total

I'm sorry to disagree, but LT has the same number of total touchdowns (passing+receiving), Alexander is stuck with a measly 47 yards receiving and 0 touchdowns. Makes him much more one-sided. And, LT has 3 passing touchdowns, making him much more of a threat than Alexander, let alone a good 3 or 4 other teams entirely.

29
by Digit (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 5:49pm

I think I can articulate how the damage of blowing a mid-first round pick on a QB is greater than blowing a mid-first round pick on a RB---

In most leagues, QBs tend to rack up more points than RBs. BUT...

It's far easier to obtain a fantasy-starting caliber QB in the later rounds. (I grabbed Carson Palmer as my first QB in the middle round, for example.) You're building your team around your RBs or WRs, and if you've been drafting wisely, you usually have a top-great corps of RBs and WRs, with a 'solid' corp of QBs to help back them up.

Taking a first-round QB, OTOH, means you not only have to pray you hit JUST right on that QB, but that you can find _enough_ depth at RBs/WRs to make up for not having the 'cream of the crop' at the very top of your RB/WRs. Add in that you usually start 1 QB, and 2 RBs / 2 WRs, (or in other leagues, 2 QBs versus more RBs/more WRs), and most people will tend to junk the backup QB to pretty late in order to stockpile more depth at RB/WR to make up for not having a top caliber RB/WR...

Or to simplify it:

Replacement QB - Top QB plus solid RB

30
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 6:33pm

#19: What exactly do up-to-minute gain us? you should have a vague idea of what they are anyway if you even half-care. Plus, if you care about little boxes for players on four plays of the game, I'd think you'd want the extra real estate. Not like you can change your team in mid-game, anyway.

31
by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 6:41pm

I'm with #27 on Siragusa. The guy is a big fat clown (and not in the funny Krusty the Clown sort of way). Somehow I think that line about "not kissing FOX's ass" has to do with this choice. Of course there are idiots out there that like Stuart Scott too....

32
by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 7:56pm

Bill Maas is the worst football announcer in the history of football.

So I applaud at least THAT award selection.

33
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 8:06pm

Re #22: I'll agree. Al's Credibility must be awfully new, because I've never seen it around before. ;)

34
by Haerandir (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 9:33pm

Re: 23

The reason endzone yardage matters on returns and not offensive plays is very clear-cut. On offensive plays, the play ends when possession is established in the end zone. It doesn't matter where. On a return, if you're 8 yards deep, you have to traverse more distance to get to the other end of the field, which means it takes longer and the opposition has more opportunities to stop you, just like on any other play. One situiation results in a binary solution set, and the other is incremental. Where increments matter, count them all.

35
by Meat Lockyard (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 9:41pm

"Galloway’s late-career resurgence is unprecedented in NFL history."

Keenan McCardell is 37! He's not having as big a season as Joey, but he's been a fine reciever the last few years.

36
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 10:07pm

Re #35: Yes, he's been a fine receiver the last few years. That's why it's not a "resurgance". He never stopped being a "fine receiver", and his numbers this year are pretty much in line with what they've been for pretty much his entire career. Same goes for Rod and Jimmy Smith. For it to be a resurgance, McCardell would have to have 3 or 4 straight seasons under 1000 yards, and then suddenly be on pace for 1600 yards.

37
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 10:09pm

I was just wondering, are the Cowboys now required to draft JaMarcus Russell? They already have Marcus and DeMarcus. Is there a KiMarcus available?

38
by Ted (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 10:37pm

I appreciate not wanting to suck up too much to the FOX guys but how can the ESPN sunday night crew not get the worst announcers award? This is a farce. Is there anyone, literally a single person, who does not hate these guys with a burning passion? At this point they are a complete running joke except they're not funny.

39
by Haerandir (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 10:42pm

Presumably they don't hate themselves, though they may hate each other.

40
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 11:01pm

#38: Amazingly, my mother likes them. And she hates just about everything else. She's spent her entire life listening to sports radio, though, so I can see her having a lot of memories of vapid garbage to compare them to.

41
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 11:36pm

Yes, because that whole “System� thing worked so well the last time the Vikings visited Lambeau Field.

by my arithmetic, THE SYSTEM is 2-5-1 so far this year

42
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 11:48pm

Post 25 is uninformed.

Mike Sherman was a terrible General Manager.

He is a solid football coach.

2000: 9-7
2001: 12-4
2002: 12-4
2003: 10-6
2004: 10-6

Folks can point to a weak division and a weak conference but a LOT of teams are in that conference and d*mn few have four consecutive seasons of double-digit wins and three consecutive division titles.

Folks look at the Packers flameouts in the playoffs and think Sherman and Co. have gacked. Isn't it also possible that the team overachieved relative to its talent?

Or is the 4th and 26 going to haunt him forever? Because yes, if he goes for the 4th and 1 with the best offensive line in football with a great running back against a weary defense that never happens.

Sherman has had his bad moments like any number of good coaches during their tenure. What fans should know is that more consistently than most his Packer teams play hard. In a league where loafing and shoddy play are commonplace that's a significant achievement.

Ultimately, terming Mike Sherman anything OTHER than a solid football coach is dumb.

43
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 11:54pm

Can anyone comment on Gado vs Greg Jones for fantasy?

44
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 2:50am

I would go with Gado since Taylor's status is unclear as far as I know. If Taylor is healthy he will get 15 carries.

45
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 4:07am

Re #42: I think terming him a failure as GM is slightly ignorant, too. Just because a GM has failures doesn't mean he's a failure himself. If 50% of his moves are colossal failures, and 50% are historic successes, then he's an above average GM. For every bad move he's made, there have been good ones (such as Al Harris vs. Mike McKenzie). If he wasn't at least a decent GM, then his team would be in the bottom 50% of the league in talent... and I feel like if a team is in the bottom 50% of the league in talent, then over the long haul they'll be in the bottom 50% in wins, too.

I'm not saying he's a terrific GM, but he has to at least be an average one, or how are the Packers even able to compete with other teams?

46
by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 4:33am

I appreciate not wanting to suck up too much to the FOX guys but how can the ESPN sunday night crew not get the worst announcers award? This is a farce. Is there anyone, literally a single person, who does not hate these guys with a burning passion?

Oh, I hate these guys with a passion. But they are still nowhere close to as bad as listening to Bill Maas. I'm going to ammend my earlier statement and calim that he is the worst SPORTS announcer in the history of sports.

47
by Meat Lockyard (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 4:47am

"Can anyone comment on Gado vs Greg Jones for fantasy?"

I started Gado over Jones in the 11th hour last week. Gado got 25 points in my league, Jones got 12. That decision was my winning margin. I don't reccomend underestimating a Packers starter, as Chatman has also been solid minus last week.

48
by Joon (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 4:51am

Re: #41

by my arithmetic, THE SYSTEM is 2-5-1 so far this year

SU or ATS? just curious. either way i'm not particularly surprised. i don't know about the upper midwest, but new england has had some unseasonably warm weather so far in november. i'm guessing THE SYSTEM! works better in december than in november, and in general better when game-time temps are colder.

49
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 5:21am

Al: Dick Stockton/Daryl Johnston/Tony Siragusa.

I'd never really gotten a chance to see this team until the 2003 Playoffs of Panthers at Rams.

I was really impressed by them (It helps that that game was also the best game I'd ever seen - Panthers win in 2OT) - I'd heard people badmouthing the crew for a while, but I was watching them and I thought the same thing you did about Siragusa - Why don't more teams put someone useful on the sidelines? They cut to him and hear from him about 5x more often then any other crew and he not only talks about the game thats actually going on, but often talks about things that he's noticing, especially on the line- Y'know, those 5 big guys that stand in front of a QB and a RB and make them look good but rarely get credit.

I really hope they get the Three Stooges job when ESPN finally realizes how much they suck. Though it WILL make the discussion boards a lot quieter on Sunday Nights and would probably crush poor Adam.

50
by DaveHawk (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 5:51am

Wow, some love for Walter Jones, that's great.

If you ask me, Walter Jones is having the single most dominating season of any player at any position in the past 5 to 10 years.

NO ONE even comes close to Hasselbeck and he and Hutchinson just pave massive holes for Alexander to run through.

Good job of doing your homework, I'm impressed.

Best offensive lineman in the NFL, and it's not even close.

51
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 8:22am

kibbles:

Have you examined Sherman's record as GM? The single biggest reason that as coach he is working with limited talent is that as GM he made a series of horrendous decisions.

Sherman was GM from 2000-2004. During that time I will list some of the highlights (cough, cough):

Drafting Jamal Reynolds over the objections of everyone around him. Packer coaching staff and Ron Wolf, still around in an advisory role, wanted Dan Morgan.

Signed Joe Johnson who was a complete and utter bust.

Overreacted to Philly's offer to KGB and paid a one-dimensional player superstar money.

Panicked in 2004 draft and traded UP to draft a PUNTER in the THIRD ROUND.

Alienated arguably his BEST defensive player, Mike McKenzie, in his role as GM.

Low-balled Na'il Diggs and then had to overpay when Detroit made an offer to Diggs as a restricted free agent offer.

I could go on for some time.

52
by Al (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 9:03am

49: Exactly. Even if you can't stand Siragusa when he tries to be funny, throughout a game he'll give you a few nuggets of analysis of line play that he sees from the sidelines. That immediately makes him the best sideline reporter in the business, just because no one else gives you any sort of analysis. I think he does a better job than some of those who have been critical here seem to think, but at least he brings a little something to a broadcast that you don't get anywhere else.

53
by Joon (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 9:16am

i have nothing really positive or negative to say about goose, but i could go on and on about moose. best color guy i've heard this year. i don't hold it against the other color guys that they're not as insightful as johnston--commentary is hard--but do they really have to be so bombastic when they have no real point? (i'm looking at you, dierdorf. and obviously the espn guys too.)

finally, i would just like to add that i am a big BK fan. if i played fantasy football, i would totally draft that guy. he's making huge plays week in and week out, and i think he has eligibility at multiple positions.

54
by Don Quixote (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 10:12am

Dierdorf realy brings out the worst in me. He is really annoying. & I know exactly what it is that bothers me the most.. did you ever notice that he tries to use really big words when he doesn't have to? VERY obnoxious. For example, a team might fail at an attempted end around, and Dierdorf will have to throw "chicanery" in there... I think one time he actually mentioned "cacaphony" as he referred to the hitting on the line. He is the worst.

55
by Chill (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 10:56am

RE: #38. I TOTALLY AGREE. I especially don't understand how Theisman and fat Paul McGuire keep their jobs. They suck. Almost as bad as Al Michaels. I can't understand how they have fired everyone that has worked with this guy in the last twenty years but keep bringing him back. Here's an idea for ABC, your ratings suck because of Al Michaels. Hire Daryl Johnston to put with Madden. That would be good. Michaels tries to sound smart by reading a word out of the dictionary before the game and using it a couple of times. AL MICHAELS should be FIRED!!!!

56
by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 12:18pm

We have special places in Gitmo for people who diss the Kid 'N Play dance. All that needed was Deion Branch to have a fade with a few lines in it and some white/jewish/asian kid awkwardly dancing the running man while wearing some Cross Colors overalls backwards with a big tri-colored Africa necklace and that would have summed up my junior high days.

57
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 1:01pm

Sorry, Fnor, it's obsession with details, a little problem I have ... you're right, you should have a general idea of a player's stats if you're interested, but I like to know the exact numbers. The little pop-out graphics on CBS are perfect - the numbers slide out after the play, then slide back.

Ideally, I'd just use my laptop for stat tracking, but the battery is awful. Of course, it's my work laptop, so I'm not springing for a spare battery ... I just need to convince the owner of the bar to install some power outlets ...

58
by calig23 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 1:43pm

What are people's thoughts on Carolina's defense against Chicago, or Seattle against San Francisco?

I'm leaning towards starting Seattle, simply because the 49ers offense is so bad, but Chicago's isn't great either...

59
by ABW (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 1:51pm

Re: 58

I'd go with Seattle.

Anybody got any ideas on who's going to have a big game out of this group of WRs? K. Curtis, TJ Housh, A Boldin, Jurevicius. I'm leaning towards Housh and Boldin, but both Jurevicius and Curtis have good matchups.

60
by JonL (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 3:15pm

I'd stay away from Houshmanzadeh...as of about a week ago, the Indy defense had a -38.6 DVOA against #2 receivers.

St. Louis is awful at covering receivers, so I might go with Boldin. San Francisco is actually better, but not as good as Arizona, so I'd lean towards Jurevicius.

61
by jebmak (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 3:40pm

Now I'm not a big fan of the Gil Thorp comics, but that one had me laughing out loud. Nicely Done!

62
by Jason (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 6:37pm

I totally disagree with the comment that the Bears have such a great chance at the playoffs.

Here is their future schedule:

Non NFC North
Carolina-Loss
At Tampa-Loss
At Pitt-Loss
Atlanta-Loss

This would put them at 6-7

Their final 3 Division Games all prove to be pretty tough

At Green Bay
VS Green Bay
At Min

2 out of the 3 are away games and their 1 Home Game is against a team that they have not defeated in Chigago in the last like 12 or whatever years.

Assuming that Chicago manages 1 win out of those 3 division games that leaves that at 7-9 which could put them out of the playoffs

63
by Al (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 6:56pm

Which NFC North team will catch the Bears?

64
by Jason (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 7:00pm

If Green Bay sweeps Chicago they have a chance to tie them at 7 win. The Vikings could pass them too

65
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 7:21pm

Jason:

GB beats Minnesota and Philly and then you can talk your crazy talk. :)

66
by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 8:03pm

I'm a biased Colts fan but even I think that Chad & Housh will have good games vs the small Colts DB's. They haven't faced a group of WR's nearly as talented as Cincy's.

As for Branch's TD celebration, I just assumed he was "kicking the Colts again". It makes more sense now that you mentioned Kid-n-Play.

67
by ABW (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 8:51pm

Yeah, I usually pay a lot of attention to those breakdowns by receiver when setting my lineups, but I think I'm going to ignore Indy's nasty rating against #2s for a couple of reasons:

1 - Housh is much better than all the #2 receivers that Indy has faced this year with the possible exception of Kevin Curtis and David Givens. Both Givens and Curtis had pretty good games.

2 - Unless I'm mistaken, Housh lines up in the slot in 3 WR sets, which means he matches up on a nickel back, which menas I should be looking at the numbers vs. "Other WRS", not #2s.

Add in the fact that Indy's schedule is so whacked that it's sending DVOA into palpitations and causing historically bizarre SOS adjustments, it's hard to put a lot of faith in Indy's DVOA numbers right now.

68
by Jason (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 9:07pm

It'll be funny when Chicago goes 1-6 to end the year and people will be talking about how they collapsed. Chicago is not very good but they have had a Colts-esque type stretch lately

Here are the last 6 teams that they played:

at Cleveland L 10-20
Minnesota W 28-3
Baltimore W 10-6
at Detroit W (OT)
at New Orleans W 20-17
San Francisco W 17-9

The last 6 games arguably the best team they played was Cleveland and they lost. The most "impressive" win was probably on the road in overtime against the dominant Lions

69
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 9:48pm

Re #51: I don't want "highlights". I could list "highlights" for ANYONE and make them look bad. Why? Because EVERYONE makes personnel errors. For instance, the immortal Bellichick/Pioli not only TRADED for Duane Starks, they also drafted SEVEN CONSECUTIVE PLAYERS at the end of the 2001 draft who are currently OoF (Out of Football).

Here's my point, though. If Mike Sherman has a team with below average talent, it will in the long run perform below average. It won't have 4 straight seasons with double-digit wins, it will struggle to reach .500 over 4 straight seasons. Look at the Green Bay Packers and the talent on their roster. Donald Driver and Javon Walker are great receivers. Wahle and Rivera were all-pros at guards. Once upon a time, Ahman Green was one of the best RBs in the game. Brett Favre has lost a bit, but he's still one of the better QBs in the NFL. Al Harris is playing better than any other CB in the entire NFL this season. You called Mike McKenzie the best defensive player on their team last year. Darren Sharper was a ballhawk in the secondary in years past. Grady Jackson was perhaps one of the biggest unheralded FA pickups of all time. KGB and Diggs might not be all-pros, but they're very solid defenders. Nick Barnett has been a very solid MLB, from what I've seen. There was TALENT on those GB teams, and that's how they won. And Mike Sherman has been responsible for COLLECTING and MAINTAINING that talent. Everyone on that team is around because he either signed them, or extended their contracts, or simply decided not to cut them, or whatever. He is the GM, and he is responsible for ALL the talent on his teams. And, from where I'm sitting, those teams have had an above-average talent base.

If you want to see what Mike Sherman's teams would have looked with if they had a surfeit of talent, look no further than this season. They lose their talented guards, they lose their talented RBs, they lose their talented WRs, they lose their talented safety, and suddenly they're a 2-7 team. THAT is what the team would have looked like the entire time if Sherman was really a below average GM. It seems to me that he's actually a pretty average GM who got hurt badly this year by the salary cap and injuries.

I hear a lot of criticisms of various GMs, but ultimately, a GM has one job, and only one job- collecting talent. And in the NFL, talent usually wins, no matter how good the coaching is. Look at New England this season. They lose their talent, and they become an average team. Philly loses Owens, gets McNabb hurt, and suddenly they're an average offense despite having the EXACT SAME coaching staff as last season. Coaching is very important, but there's only so much that coaching can do at the NFL level. In the end, the better team usually wins. And Sherman's teams have certainly won.

70
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 10:05pm

Finding Talent is a major part of a head coaches job - and I don't think theres any head coach in the NFL whose as good at spotting talented players as Bill Parcells. If he's interested in a player, he sees something. He tried trading for Rudi Johnson a couple years ago when he was still stuck in backup role behind Corey Dillon.

Nick Barnett has been a very solid MLB, from what I’ve seen.

Nick Barnett is solid against the pass, but he plays the run very poorly.

71
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 10:09pm

The NFC North race is going to be fascinating in a grotesque sort of way. Monday's game is huge, and I expect both teams to play with desperation rarely seen in a contest between 2-7 and 4-5 clubs, especially if Chicago falls to Carolina on Sunday.

I also think the current four points that Green Bay is favored by is about right, and don't know who I would lay money on if I were forced to, but I suppose it might be the Pack; it's easy to envision a tie or one point Viking lead being erased in the last minute by Farve touchdown pass, while it is less easy to envision a successful Viking comeback at Lambeau.

For the Vikings to win, Pat and Kevin Williams MUST dominate the interior of the Pack's o-line, allowing the Vikings to keep their safeties back, and taking advantage of any throws that Farve forces in long yardage situations. If the Vikings are forced to bring a safety up for run support, Farve will take them apart. The Vikings offense will be very fortunate to put together two long scoring drives. Minnesota must force turnovers.

If Minnesota wins, they will have no worse than a 50% chance to win the division, and probably quite a bit better. If Green Bay wins, and Chicago loses, the Pack likely has a 40% chance of winning the division, although that may be an underestimation.

The divisional games down the stretch should be a lot of fun to watch, if one isn't too focused on aesthetics.

72
by thad (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 10:23pm

ok kibbles, I agree with 99% of your post. But Al Harris?
Playing the best in the NFL?
Ya sure?
When did everyone here decide he was all that and a bag of chips

73
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 10:40pm

Kibbles:

It is rather apparent that instead of studying the situation you would rather rant.

Let's consider each player you listed and who brought that player onto the roster of the Green Bay Packers.

Ron Wolf selections:

Donald Driver, 7th round, 1999
Mike Wahle, supplemental draft, 1998
Marco Rivera, sixth round, 1996
Ahman Green, trade with Seattle (Wolf was still the GM when this trade happened)
Brett Favre, trade with Atlanta
Mike McKenzie, 3rd round, 1999
Darren Sharper, 2nd round, 1998
Na'il Diggs, 4th round, 2000
KGB, 7th round, 1999

Mike Sherman:

Javon Walker, 1st round, 2002
Al Harris, trade with Philly
Nick Barnett, 1st round, 2003
Grady Jackson, mid-season pickup, 2003

Now, Wolf was an outstanding GM. But as you can read for yourself Sherman does not fare well. In fact, if you look at the current Packer roster it is STILL the Wolf selections carrying the team on offense: Favre, Driver, Clifton, Tauscher.

Sherman (and his assistants) have NOT done a good job of filling the talent pipeline. You look at those Packer teams of the 90's and there was ALWAYS the next good player ready to step in. Just take wide receiver: Sharpe gets hurt, Robert Brooks is ready. Robert Brooks gets hurt, Antonio Freeman steps in. Or running back. Edgar Bennett loses a step there's a Dorsey Levens. Dorsey Levens can't come back from injury Wolf finds an Ahman Green.

Sherman has been and IS a fine football coach. But he was NOT a good General Manager. I haven't even TOUCHED on his myriad of contractual decisions that almost buried the team in cap issues.

Please take a deep breath, consider ALL the facts, and accept the reality that the Packers need Ted Thompson to be a Houdini for the team to stay relevant.

Because Mike Sherman failed as a GM. No other way to say it.

74
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 11:29pm

Freak, I remember being surprised when Sherman was able to consolidate so much power in his first big head-coaching gig. How did that come about?

75
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2005 - 11:57pm

Will:

Circumstances. Remember, Ron Wolf pretty much had a free hand in Green Bay as Vice President Bob Harlan, his "boss", was focussed on the accounting ledger while giving Wolf complete autonomy with the football side.

So Holmgren leaves after the 1998 season with the stated reason of wanting to be Coach/GM and at that time Wolf wasn't thinking about retirement. Then Wolf hires Ray Rhodes which was a complete disaster. Ray Rhodes may be a decent Defensive Coordinator but as a head coach he was a joke. The 1999 Packers were one of the sloppiest, most disorganized teams I have ever seen. They finished 8-8 thanks to luck, Favre, and the schedule.

So Wolf fires Rhodes and hires Sherman. Sherman, being a solid coach as I have stated above, gets the team focussed on the right things and after a pretty mediocre start finishes strong with 4 straight wins and ends up 9-7.

Well, Wolf had told Harlan during the 2000 season he was going to retire the following June. Harlan is NOT a football guy. He was and is a business guy and darn good at it. The Packers have done a fantastic job of marketing their product and developing various revenue streams. And with Wolf in charge Harlan had a FANTASTIC football game to provide the central product that made his life so easy.

So now Harlan has to find a Wolf replacement. But NOT being a football guy he has no clue. Rumor has it that he basically asked Wolf if he thought Sherman could handle both jobs. Wolf was reportedly pretty stunned as he had recommended Ken Herock, his right-hand man, for the job when he told Harlan he was going to retire. But Wolf had always respected Harlan for giving him so much latitude and pretty much stammered, "Ummm, ok".

And that was enough for Bob Harlan. He handed the keys to the kingdom to Mike Sherman, a guy with ONE YEAR of head coaching experience in the NFL and NO background whatsoever in player personnel (from a business side).

As I have written above, it was not a good decision for the Packer organization and the impact will be felt for years.

Sherman was in the right place at the right time. The music stopped and he happened to be sitting in the chair. That's how it happened.

76
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 12:02am

Some might be curious as to how I can write the above passage with such conviction. Well, I know a lot of folks, ask a lot of questions, and believe I have a pretty good idea of what transpired.

So no, I wasn't in the room at the time. And no, I didn't have a tape recorder planted on the scene.

Therefore, feel free to ignore this as pure "man on the grassy knoll" conjecture.

Except I ain't guessing. :)

77
by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 1:29am

NFC Central Freak:

Do you know anything about the firing of the Packers Defensive Coordinator after the 2003 season? It seems to me that ever since then the defense has been in a significant decline. Was the firing a reactionary mistake, or was it a good idea but they failed to hire a good replacement or fix other problems on the defense?

Webmasters:
When will the Loser League standings be put up?

78
by Calbuzz (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 1:52am

Al, don't try to be too smart. Walter Jones is a good choice, but the fact is, he didn't miss any regular season games due to a "holdout." Instead, he signed his tender before the regular season, and started the first game of the season each year he's been "franchised."

In addition, he's not the "difference maker" this year! Last year we started out great too. But the difference betweent this year and last has been: 1)not dropping passes at WR position, and 2)changing of the guard on Defense, which ended up #26 last year, and is improved to #16 so far this year.

BTW, DeMarcus Ware over Lofa Tatupu for ROY?
Tatupu: 62 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT.
Ware: 30 tackles, 4 sacks, 0 INT.

79
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 3:54am

I'd like to thank Al for cluing me in to exactly what the h*** Branch was doing in that endzone dance. He has plenty of credibility as far as I'm concerned, even though he is a Pats homer. :D :P

I'd also like to ask for help picking 2 WR's from:

Wayne vs. CIN
Housh @ IND
McCardell vs. BUF
Andre Johnson vs. KC

80
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 9:29am

77:

Ed Donatell was fired for the simple reason that Sherman needed a scapegoat for the Philly debacle.

If you closely examine that play you will notice that Nick Barnett, a rookie at the time, stays with the TE who didn't go downfield. Because Barnett didn't get ANY depth McNabb was able to line drive it to Freddie Mitchell as opposed to lofting the ball which would have given the DBs time to make a play.

That was the key to the entire play. Barnett wasn't aware enough to know that hanging around the line of scrimmage was dumb.

Sherman blamed Donatell.

Of course, that distracted from what I consider one of the dumbest decisions of the last decade, the Packers punting on that 4th and 1.

So Sherman fired Donatell which to me wasn't so outrageous only because I thought Donatell was a pretty mediocre coach.

But then to hire Bob Slowik?? That was what made the move galactically stupid as Slowik had shown no signs of being worthy of that position. And then to compound the situation Sherman's best defensive player, McKenzie, had a meltdown over his DB coach not getting the job. So they lose the game and eventually one of their better players over a hasty, ill-conceived decision.

Another sign of Sherman's failings as GM.

Mike Sherman is a solid football coach.

Mike Sherman was a dreadful General Manager.

Period.

81
by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 11:36am

Kid N Play? Why don't I know what this is? Is it because I'm English and its an American thing, or is it cos I'm just unschooled in culture?

Also, whats the distinction between GM and Coach? I mean, does the GM exclusively get players and the Coach exclusively coach? Or is more a case of the coach tells the GM what players he wants and the GM sorts out the contract?

82
by Joon (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 11:56am

Re: #81

player acquisition and roster construction are the job of the GM; this covers the draft, free agency, waivers, trades, and contract negotiations. also usually the GM hires the head coach and together they assemble a staff of assistant coaches.

on successful teams, there is also a good working relationship between the GM and the coach so that, you know, the coach will actually use the talent that the GM brings in, and the GM will try to go get players who fit the coach's system well.

83
by MRH (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 12:43pm

Re predicting Jake Plummer.

I write a weekly stats based column for FantasyGuru.com. Back in Sep I wrote an article about QB home/road fantasy splits (I'd link to it but it's a subscription site).

Denver provides qbs one of the biggest home field fantasy advantages in the NFL.

Jake Plummer in Denver in 2003-2004 averaged over 4 points per game more (depending on your scoring system of course) at home than on the road. To date this year it's been about 3.5 points. When Jake was in ARI in 2002, he was roughly equal in home and road scoring.

Brian Griese had about a 2.5 point home field edge in Den in 2002. In TB, he's been better on the road: last year about 4 pts a game, this year before getting hurt about 2 pts. With MIA in 2003 he stunk everywhere.

If I had Jake and Eli I'd start Plummer when he's at home. When he's on the road, I'd lean towards Eli but it would depend on the matchup.

84
by admin :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 2:04pm

On the subject of both Walter Jones and Demarcus Ware, I just finished charting the second half of the Seattle-Dallas game.

On nearly every pass play, Jones was pushing Ware so far back he went off the screen. Over and over. Dunno if that says more about Jones or Ware.

By the way, Seattle ran a play fake on third-and-17. Can someone explain that to me? Who the hell is going to buy a play fake on third-and-17 when you are on your own 45? What, you're trying to get a few extra yards so you can try a 68-yard field goal? If someone asked me what I've learned game charting, the first thing I would say is that teams play fake in the dumbest situations when nobody in their right minds would bite on the damn things. (The second thing would be that NFC teams run split backs side-by-side much more often than AFC teams.)

85
by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 2:36pm

A few fantasy questions, as I'm on the fence with a couple of my starting choices. I've got a choice between playing Carson Palmer and Kurt Warner at quarterback. Warner has a much better matchup, and he's not going to be playing in the sleet, but it's tough to put Palmer on the bench under any circumstances. Brady was able to move the ball against Indy and I'm sure Palmer will do so as well, but the combination of bad weather and a run-heavy gameplan have me a bit worried.

I also need to start two of these four backs- Willis McGahee, Chris Brown, Brian Westbrook and Samkon Gado. Based on the matchups, I was leaning towards Westbrook and Gado.

86
by Al (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 4:43pm

Yes, Jones was usually on the field for the first game, but he always missed at least part of training camp, and the Seahawk offense suffered because of it. Over his career, Alexander has averaged half a yard per carry less in September than over the rest of the season. This year, with Jones going through a full training camp, Alexander hit the ground running, averaging 5.6 yards per carry in September.

87
by adam b. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 4:46pm

Answers:

Caffeine/79 - the first two. McCardell isn't All That with Gates around.

Sean/85 - Palmer, no question. Don't overplay matchups. And McGahee/Gado, for sure.

Question: Same guys as last week -- Mason v PIT or Wilford @ TEN as my #3 WR? (Assume that Drew Bennett is not yet an option again.)

88
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 4:52pm

RE: 17

The SYSTEM is my secret weapon. Every season, I can't wait until November so I can start using it. I especially like to use it against Arizona and Miami. :D

89
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 7:49pm

adam b./87, Re: Housh and Wayne. Thanks, that's what I figured.

For your #3, if you can afford a bit of a gamble, I'd lean towards Wilford, with Jimmy Smith still hurting and JAX hunting playoff seeding against a division opponent with a week pass D. Mason seems to do OK even if BAL struggles, but I just don't like the matchup against PIT, who ranks 8th in pass defense DVOA and 4th against #1 WR's. And Boller throwing...

90
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 2:59am

Yay my team is back, finally! Bulger, S. Smith, C. Johnson, I. Bruce, T. Bell, W. Dunn and J. Witten. No more byes, no more injuries (hopefully)!

Oh great Arizona, your ability to aid fantasy teams is terrible and mighty to behold... please grant me your fantasy blessing so I can smack the smirks off everyone's faces after that Carolina disaster last week....

91
by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 9:02am

How can Andy Reid not get some attention as Worst Coach? His terrible playcalling, his terrible roster managment (not activating Todd France despite knowing Akers was hurt; leaving Westbrook on the bench at the end of the Washington game), his terrible handling of the T.O. situation (that's a mess with plenty of blame to share) and his team's terrible record in what should have been a playoff year at minimum. I'm not even including his terrible GMing that resulted in half-a-dozen players being pissed off about their contracts this year and let an All-pro DT walk away as a free agent. Terrible, terrible, terrible.

92
by Joon (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 9:32am

Re: #91

you sound bitter. are you bitter?

reid is held in very high esteem around here, because he has a very strong track record of success. admittedly 2005 is not looking like his finest hour, but it doesn't seem to me like any of the things you mentioned are objectively terrible. the 4-5 record i guess could be considered "terrible" for a team that many expected to run away with the NFC yet again. but that's the product of so many different variables that it's absurd to place so much of the blame on andy reid.

the playcalling certainly has been a little weird this year, but not what i would call terrible or even bad, given their personnel situation. just about the only significant fault i can find with reid as a coach is his clock management, but it's hard to know how much of that is his fault and how much is mcnabb's.

by the way, are you really complaining about reid as GM? he's constructed the most dominant team in football over the past 5 years other than the patriots, and maintained an extremely good roster despite the salary cap and the usual defections suffered by successful teams.

93
by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 11:02am

I live in South Jersey so I'm well aware Andy Reid is approaching near-godlike status. But 50+ passes with an injured QB is not wierd, it's damn terrible. Leaving Westbrook out of the gameplan is not weird, it's damn terrible. A 70/30 pass/run ratio is not weird, it's damn terrible.

Sure I can complain about Reid as a GM (I'm an Eagles fan AND a reporter; I can complain about anything.) Westbrook, Owens, Akers, Corey Simon and Hollis Thomas came into the sesason unhappy with their contracts. T.O. might be a nut, but why screw with Akers and allow Joe Banner to say publically slag B.West? The Colts might have overpaid for Simon but letting him leave without getting anything in return is just terrible.

94
by Daniel (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 12:40pm

What does the DVOA %age actually represent? I realize how to compare one team to another, but how do i use that percentage to see how MUCH better one team is over another? What is an expected point differential (or point total) given two teams' DVOAs?
thanks.

95
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 1:47pm

Ha ha. Reid is far from the worst coach. He may not be the best, but he's not even close to the worst. And doesn't Joe Banner report to Jeff Lurie, not Andy Reid? I'm not saying he's above criticism, but saying he should get a nod for worst coach is off base, I think. This isn't reporter's hyperbole for the sake of a story, is it?

96
by Otis the Pug (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 3:26pm

My team is terrible. This is my choice at 2nd RB - Ricky Williams or JJ Arrington or Frank Gore. 1 point for every 10 yards rushing or receiving, and 1 point per reception. Which way should I go? Help!

97
by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 4:42pm

No reporter worth his trench coat and cirrhosis would hyperbolize for the sake of a story. But the Eagles have had a wretched season so far and the head coach has to accept much of the blame for that.

98
by admin :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 7:10pm
99
by Polish Wonders (not verified) :: Sat, 11/19/2005 - 11:41pm

Just looked at the Loser League results. I noticed that Ricky Williams got 15 points last week. He had 11 carries for 13 yards & 1 catch for 19. Is that correct?

100
by Browns Dude (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 1:03am

Someone finally agrees with me that Manning's commercials are condescending.

101
by kevin (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 6:12am

re # 81 (Podge) - Kid N Play was a popular rap/dance duo around 1990 that had a distinctive style . . .

102
by Joon (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 9:41am

Re: #98

apropos of nothing, did you guys consider including a team defense as part of the loser league roster? it might be an interesting addition, especially for the 2nd half of seasons where there are no more bye weeks.

103
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Sun, 11/20/2005 - 12:29pm

Actually, one of the reasons I found this site was because my opinion is most reporters AREN'T worth their trench coat and cirrhosis. And your statements about the Eagles are still hyperbolic:

So the Eagles are currently having a middle-of-the-pack season (1.8% DVOA overall, 15th in the league) after a Super Bowl trip last year. That's not even close to "wretched." Even if we assign ALL the blame for this droppoff to Reid and none of it to injuries, other teams improving, the T.O. mess, Joe Banner, bad luck, etc., it still doesn't matter because it's still not the worst coaching job this season.

104
by Gonzo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 3:58am

So yeah. . .that whole "System" thing.

Not so much, huh?

105
by jore (not verified) :: Fri, 03/10/2006 - 11:00am

unh