Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
17 Oct 2007
by Bill Barnwell
Tuesday's trade deadline, much like the ones that preceded it, can best be described as Little Ado About Little. Last year's Booger McFarland deal brought the Colts a defensive tackle that contributed towards their title run. This year's moves, though, aren't likely to make or break the chances of either Tampa Bay or San Diego. Michael Bennett is fast, but he doesn't really break tackles and he never had the best instincts when it comes to finding the hole. You all know how I feel about Chris Chambers (although he was actually having a pretty decent season in Miami this year).
There have been players throughout history, though, who have joined teams in midseason and made a huge impact. Let's take a look back at the ten players who have put up the most fantasy points in one season playing for two (or more) teams.
Probably the most famous trade in NFL history. Just to review: Walker, two third-round picks, a fifth-round pick, and a tenth-round pick for LB Jesse Solomon, LB David Howard, CB Issiac Holt, RB Darrin Nelson, DE Alex Stewart, three first-round picks, three second-round picks, a third-round pick, and a sixth-round pick. Walker only managed 669 yards in the 11 games following the trade, but the combined 915 rushing yards, 40 receptions, 423 receiving yards, and nine scores Walker put up in his season was the best fantasy season ever put up by a multi-team player. That doesn't mean it lived up to expectations or was a good trade, obviously.
Chandler was the trickle-down from the holdout of John Jefferson. Jefferson, a product of the Air Coryell system, held out and was shipped off to Green Bay, where he served as the number two receiver across from James Lofton and struggled to put up numbers comparable to his San Diego production. The Chargers acquired Chandler from the Saints in midseason to replace him, and their points scored went from 418 to 478. Chandler ended up with a 1,000-yard season and six touchdowns across both locales, and played a key role in the famed Chargers-Dolphins playoff game that year.
Dickerson held out to start the season, waited through the strike, and went from Los Angeles to Indianapolis in a deal that netted the Rams Greg Bell and three first rounders. Dickerson had a 1,000-yard season ... in nine games. I bet Willie Parker can't even do that.
Brown had a very strange career to go with his very strange first name. He was a second-round pick out of UCLA by the Cardinals in 1979 -- as a 230-pound fullback -- but lost his job after two seasons and was traded to the Seahawks four weeks into the 1981 season. He became the featured running back that year, but then the next year, the Seahawks established the 2007 Packers game plan by giving four running backs 30 to 63 carries for the whole season. Even in a nine-game season, that's remarkably low. After three games in 1983, Brown was dealt to Kansas City, where he split carries with Billy Jackson and became a short-yardage back and receiving threat, catching 47 passes, rushing for 467 yards, and scoring ten touchdowns. The next year, Brown played a full year as the starting fullback, but then in 1985, Brown suffered a heart attack that ended his career.
The long-time Lions starting quarterback split time in 1957 with the newly-arrived Tobin Rote, formerly of Green Bay, and the resulting quarterback battle left Layne on the bench. Pittsburgh had Earl Morrall as the starter and a pair of backups who would go on to become legends in Jack Kemp and Len Dawson; unfortunately, they'd become legends in the AFL. After Layne lost his job to Rote, Pittsburgh flipped Morrall to Detroit for Layne in a challenge trade. Morrall wouldn't be a starting quarterback again until that famous 1968 Colts season, while Layne averaged 8.7 yards per attempt and was a Pro Bowler in 1959. Hey, the Lions stockpiling skill position players and trading them for pennies on the dollar? Someone should tell MDS about this...
The father of the current Cowboys linebacker, and not to be confused with the first American 50-goal scorer in NHL history, Carpenter was acquired in 1981 by the Giants in Ray Perkins' second-to-final season as Giants head coach. After being stuck behind Earl Campbell in Houston, Carpenter immediately emerged as an integral part of the Giants offense, beating out Leon Perry, Louis Jackson, Doug Kotar, Billy Taylor, Leon Bright, and Ike Forte (no wonder he bombed with the Celtics) to receive the majority of carries. The Giants needed Carpenter, too, since they were stuck with the underperforming and injury-prone Phil Simms at quarterback and were enjoying the benefits of the Scott Brunner experience in his stead. Simms missed all of 1982 with a knee injury suffered in preseason against the Jets, and then spent 1983 backing up Brunner and his 9-to-22 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Finally, in 1984, Simms got the starting gig back for good, Butch Woolfolk was replaced by Joe Morris, and the Giants' winning ways returned. Simms' first four seasons represent both a cautionary and hopeful tale for rookie quarterbacks and bring up a very interesting question: Would he have had the same career path if he'd started his career in the modern media climate?
Muncie requested a trade following the 1979 season, but it wasn't until 1980 that it would be consummated, with San Diego again involved. The Chargers had used fifth-round pick Clarence Williams as their starter in 1979 with limited success, despite his 12 touchdowns, and Muncie was a star in New Orleans with a significant pedigree. Muncie immediately became the starter and averaged a full yard more than Williams had the year before; the year after, he gained 1,144 yards.
I told you, Theotis Brown had a weird career.
Bryant's not exactly had the most normal career up to this point, either. The former Pittsburgh wideout was drafted by the Cowboys in the second round in 2002, but never lived up to his pedigree, struggling for consistency and with his routes. A famous towel-related bust-up with Bill Parcells led to a 2004 trade to Cleveland, where he became their best wideout pre-Braylon Edwards. After his rookie contract expired and Bryant put up a 1,006-yard season, the 49ers signed him in the hopes that the 26-year-old still had better days in front of him. Instead, the old Bryant showed up to play, and a late-season DUI led to his release after the season. A suspension awaiting Bryant has led teams to avoid him, and there hasn't been any recent news of the talented receiver returning to the NFL.
The Hall of Fame tight end was famed for being on the end of Ken Stabler's throws, so when the Oilers acquired Stabler, it seemed only natural that Casper would follow. He did, at the price of first- and second-round picks, and made the Pro Bowl in his first year with Houston, but was on the downside of his career and never put up similar numbers again. For 10 games, though, his 34 catches and 526 yards were enough to help push the Oilers into the playoffs, where they lost to ... the Oakland Raiders. Raiderjoe, take a bow.
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QB: It's too bad you don't get points for "just winning." Or, alternately, "just losing" when you're supposed to be "just winning." Vince Young's injury kept him off the field for a good chunk of Week 6, but he wasn't any great shakes when he was on the field either. His two points paced all quarterbacks. Second was Chad Pennington, who put up four points as he started his farewell tour.
RB: Sammy Morris has been the surprise package at running back of the first six weeks, but the gravy train might be stopping here; Laurence Maroney is ready to return from his groin injury (I think), and Morris could only manage one point this week after suffering an injury. Warrick Dunn, a player who I'm somewhat surprised didn't move at the trade deadline, could only score two points. A pair of NFC West backs split the runner-up honors; good job Shaun Alexander and Brian Leonard!
WR: Five players could only muster a single point this week. Matt Jones and Santana Moss were the notables, but Drew Carter, Antonio Chatman, and Jabar Gaffney also put up performances that could charitably described as "wack."
K: In my Madden Superstar mode, I started off as a running back for the Packers. Mason Crosby, in his rookie campaign for the Packers, missed five extra points in 16 games. Of course, in Superstar mode, you don't control the roster composition, but I almost benched Crosby for me and my 12 overall rating. After we won the Super Bowl, we signed Stephen Gostkowski, which was a good move, but since Brett Favre retired, the crack Madden AI waived Aaron Rodgers and used our first three draft picks on rookie quarterbacks. Crosby didn't miss an extra point this week, but he did miss two field goals that almost cost the Packers. Crosby had one point this week, as did Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins.
KCW is usually the domain of poor coaches and generally mediocre and/or temperamental players. It's rare that we award the spot to a player of some quality, which is why it feels strange this week to hand the ax to Santana Moss. Moss wasn't the only player who screwed up for Washington in Green Bay, but his mistakes were the two most prominent; his fumble on a reverse in the third quarter resulted in Green Bay's touchdown, and his awful drop whilst wide-open behind the defense on what would've been a sure touchdown cost the Redskins an opportunity to win. Moss isn't likely to show up here again, but he was the man who chopped the most wood in Week 6.
2-1 last week, 7-7-1 overall
Denver's not the same team they were in previous years. Both DAVE and DVOA peg them as a well-below average team. Meanwhile, the Steelers are the third-best team in football according to both metrics. Denver's home-field advantage helps, but the Steelers are still a superior team and one likely to create problems for Jay Cutler.
Carson Palmer versus the worst pass defense in football. Whee! If I was betting over/under lines in Scramble, the +/- 47 line would be ripe, too.
Hopefully, Jeff Garcia will know the signals Rod Marinelli's defense is calling out, since Marinelli was a Buccaneers assistant for ten seasons. Either way, Detroit's W-L record is far above their actual level of play according to either DVOA or DAVE, and Tampa's ranked fifth by both our metrics.
29 comments, Last at 18 Oct 2007, 1:10pm by Andrew