Our offseason Four Downs series ends with a look at the NFC West's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. The Rams and 49ers have to kick-start their passing games, Arizona's offense lacks a big dimension, and the Seahawks continue to rely on Russell Wilson's magic tricks.
05 Sep 2007
by Bill Barnwell
|SCRAMBLE FOR THE BALL SPONSOR|
|Attention Football Outsiders Readers: Get a free week of winning NFL picks from Doc's Sports Handicapping Service. You will receive the same picks Doc's paying members receive from all 5 handicappers on their "Advisory Board"; and there is absolutely NO OBLIGATION what so ever for this offer. Call 1-866-238-6696 or email email@example.com with "Free Football Outsider" in the subject line.|
Hola Scrambolitos! In this week's Scramble, we'll be going through the fantasy mailbag for some post-draft questions, and returning to the land of Best Bets with a special Game of the Week preview. First, though, remember that you can e-mail your fantasy questions to scramble-at-footballoutsiders.com for discussion in the column. Second, if you haven't created your Loser League team ... what's wrong with you? You've got until tonight to click here and sign up.
Alex: Just finished a 10-team draft (QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, Flex, TE, D, K). According to KUBIAK I nailed this draft, with eight out of the top 40 players, the top kicker, and the second-ranked defense, but looking at my roster, I'm just not too thrilled with it. What do you think?
QB: Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck; RB: Brian Westbrook, Maurice Jones-Drew, Cedric Benson, Ladell Betts, Julius Jones; WR: Marques Colston, Donte' Stallworth, Isaac Bruce, D.J. Hackett, Greg Jennings; TE: Antonio Gates; K: Stephen Gostkowski; D: Packers.
I don't know. It looks like a pretty solid team to me. You've got great depth at running back and are going to be able to play matchups each week with up to five starting running backs. That's going to come into play later in the year when you might need to make a trade. You'll be able to do the same with Young, and close attention to how opposing defenses handle running quarterbacks will be a great indicator to determine whether Hasselbeck's a good start over Young. Gates is a tremendous competitive advantage and might be the surest bet in fantasy outside of Harrison and Manning. This is a tremendously deep team.
Jon: I committed the cardinal sin of fantasy sports and forgot when my draft was. Through the magic of auto-drafting, I ended up with both Antonio Gates and Heath Miller, and the league I'm in doesn't have a flex position (the offense is QB/2WR/2RB/TE). My starting quarterback is Jon Kitna, and I dropped Jake Delhomme for Damon Huard. My running backs are Travis Henry, Ronnie Brown and Chester Taylor, and my receivers are Larry Fitzgerald, Plaxico Burress, Joey Galloway and D.J. Hackett. Obviously, keeping Gates is preferable, but I can also get more for him in trade value. Should I package him for a better quarterback or running back, use Miller to get decent depth, or is having two quality tight ends good injury insurance?
Well, I did just say in the paragraph above that Gates is the third surest bet in fantasy football, and I think the extra passes in Pittsburgh this year go to Santonio Holmes more than they do Miller. I still think Miller will be useful, but I might recommend you try something like Taylor/Gates for elite RB/average TE. Running backs in committees with rookie top 10 draftees give me the yips, Thomas Jones' 2005-2006 aside.
John: I'm just reviewing the KUBIAK predictions, and I'm curious about the Ladell Betts/Clinton Portis data -- you seem to have them getting almost the exact same yardage. Is this based on the idea that Portis will be injured for half of the year? Or based on how Gibbs will run the offense?
It's a mix of both. Portis has been injury-prone since leaving Denver, getting hurt each season. Betts performed admirably in his absence and is likely to see more playing time than the average backup, even if both are healthy. Furthermore, we project the Redskins to win their share of games this year -- that means they'll be running the ball plenty of times.
|Check out the Football Outsiders comics archive and Jason's wacky Gil Thorp blog.|
Dave: In my auto-draft league the quarterbacks went faster than expected and I ended up with Left-the-league and Rex Grossman. Who should I pick up and play to replace Byron? Huard, Garrard, Garcia and McNair are all available.
That is an ugly bunch right there. I would go with McNair. He's got the best offense around him, and he's not hurt yet. The Ravens start with four weeks of pretty mediocre pass defenses in Cincinnati, the Jets, Arizona and Cleveland, which could mean some relatively big numbers for McNair.
In addition, FO intern Jake Schumaker discovered how to most closely approximate PAR in Yahoo's scoring system, for those of you trying to create a PAR league. (Obviously, you can't do DPAR -- Yahoo doesn't exactly have a "schedule strength" component.) He estimated the points allowed values for Team Defense based upon the chance each kind of scoring prevention typically gives a team to win a game. Jake also notes that it turns Ted Ginn into a second-round pick, according to their Autopick. It might be a little late for the details for this year's leagues, but if you want to start one a week late, here's the scoring:
Bill (28-22-1 last year)
Ah, another year of Best Bets. Sadly, I won't be able to taunt Ian this year, but it opens up some new doors for Scramble.
Popular mainstream media Web sites have been using video games to predict the results of NFL games for years now with absolutely no success. With that in mind, we at Football Outsiders have discovered a slightly older video game that predicts NFL results with equal aplomb. We'll be applying this technology occasionally throughout the season where we see fit, including for this Week 1 tilt:
The game will start off auspiciously for the Bears as Devin Hester finds a seam on the outside...
Only to fall off the edge of the field and into the endless suffocation of space.
The Bears will attempt to establish the run early with Cedric Benson, and while Benson will get off to a solid start...
Avoiding land mines is a skill, and Benson just doesn't have it. Next time, he might consider wearing his flame-retardent Under Armour.
Sadly, an impartial observer will also suffer some of the consequences of Benson's inability to avoid the mine.
Ed Hochuli was the replacement ref; to intimidate the players and onlookers, he actually absorbed the blast of a land mine inside his pecs.
Backed up deep in his own territory, did you expect that Rex Grossman would be able to maneuver his way out of trouble?
Well, the decapitated part of him may have gone for a first down. Unfortunately, Mutant League Football offers no measurements and has no yellow line.
Shawne Merriman, as you might expect, showed no remorse. He did find a new nickname, though.
Another late score spelled doom for the Bears and the Chargers fans' mirth was evident.
Final Score: Chargers 23, Bears 9
The Jets' biggest advantage over the Patriots last year was their ability to create space for Jerricho Cotchery, particularly over the middle, which led to big games for Cotchery against the Patriots all three times they played. Now, the Patriots have Brandon Meriweather, Eugene Wilson and Adalius Thomas all around. Advantage negated.
Ah, yes. We're still high on Jacksonville, even though they don't have Byron Leftwich any longer. This is going to be a low-scoring affair (I'd take the under at 38), but Jacksonville's defense is going to be way too stifling for Tennessee to move the ball. A defensive touchdown for Jacksonville might push them into covering.
33 comments, Last at 08 Sep 2007, 9:26pm by p.Red