Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Game Preview: DEN-CIN

Maybe the Bengals are a paper tiger, but are they really that bad in prime time games? Is Peyton Manning struggling in Denver's new offense? We detail the Monday night clash.

Loser League Wrap-Up and Fantasy Playoff Draft

by Vince Verhei and Ben Riley

With the regular season over, it's time to look back at months and months of losing. Before we announce the winner of Part II of our Loser League contest (covering Weeks 10 through 17), let's look at the biggest losers of Week 17:

QB: Ben Roethlisberger finished the game against the Browns with one interception and one head/neck injury. He scored a 3.

RB: Larry Johnson had just 18 yards rushing, 0 yards receiving, and a 1.

WR: Two veterans scored a 0: Roy Williams (4 yards) and Isaac Bruce (8 yards).

K: What a miserable week for kickers! Rian Lindell (who was kicking in a vortex in Buffalo), Phil Dawson, and Rob Bironas each missed their only kick and scored a -2. Yet none was the biggest loser of the week -- that honor goes to Matt Prater, who kicked two extra points and missed one, finishing with a -3.

Now, the biggest losers of the second half of the season:

QB: The Rams won no games in the second half of the season, so it's fitting that their quarterback takes snaps for the All-Loser team. Marc Bulger finished with an 83.

RB: Kind of shocking to see Ronnie Brown's name here. But he hasn't scored 10 or more points since Week 10. He finished with just 58.

WR: Brandon Stokley runs away from the field here. Aside from a 10-point outburst in Week 13, he never scored more than 4 in any week, and finished with just 27.

K: Jacksonville's Josh Scobee scored a mere 24 to "lead" all kickers. He was only 5-of-9 on field goals over the second half of the season.

With that rigamarole taken care of, it's time to announce our winner: Alec Breckenridge of Libertyville, Illinois, owner of the Purple Pulchritude, who scored a mere 286 points. Congratulations Alec! You sure know your losers!

(Ed. Note: We need to matchup some database information to get our "both halves" winner, so we'll have that announcement next week.)

Playoff Fantasy Draft

It's also time for our annual playoff fantasy draft. Our fantasy scoring is as follows:

  • 6 points for rushing or receiving touchdown, 4 points for passing touchdown
  • 1 point for every 10 yards rushing or receiving, 20 yards passing
  • -2 points for lost fumble or interception
  • 2 points for 2-point conversion of any kind
  • Kickers: 3 points for FG 1-39 yard, 4 points for 40-49 yard, 6 points for 50-plus yards, and 1 point for every extra point
  • Defense: 2 points for interception or fumble recovery, 6 points for touchdown, 4 points for safety, 1 point for sack, and then -1 point for every 7 points allowed (and a bonus 5 points for a shutout)

Each player drafts a quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker, and a defense. You get the fantasy points for your guys, but if they go out (either for injury or because their team loses) you do not get to replace them.

The participants, in their original drafting order, as determined using the "RAND" function in Excel:

  • Any Given Sunday writer Ned Macey;
  • Managing editor Bill Barnwell;
  • El Jefe Aaron Schatz;
  • Scramble co-writer Vince Verhei;
  • Cover-3 writer Doug Farrar;
  • and cartoonist Jason Beattie.

We used a serpentine draft, so the draft order switched every round. Also, to save time, everyone made two picks at a time in Rounds 8 and 9.

As always, we welcome our readers to compile their own "Best of the Rest" teams in the comments, and we'll track the best one in the next few weeks of Scramble for the Ball.

Round One

Ned Macey: DeAngelo Williams, RB, CAR
Bill Barnwell: Michael Turner, RB, ATL
Aaron Schatz: Brian Westbrook, RB, PHI
Vince Verhei: Chris Johnson, RB, TEN
Doug Farrar: Peyton Manning, QB, IND
Jason Beattie: Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG

Round Two

Jason Beattie: Steve Smith, WR, CAR
Doug Farrar: Le'Ron McClain, RB, BAL
Vince Verhei: Eli Manning, QB, NYG
Aaron Schatz: Roddy White, WR, ATL
Bill Barnwell: Reggie Wayne, WR, IND
Ned Macey: Joseph Addai, RB, IND

Round Three

Ned Macey: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI
Bill Barnwell: Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN
Aaron Schatz: Donovan McNabb, QB, PHI
Vince Verhei: Anquan Boldin, WR, ARI
Doug Farrar: Derrick Ward, RB, NYG
Jason Beattie: Mushin Muhammad, WR, CAR

Round Four

Jason Beattie: Domenik Hixon, WR, NYG
Doug Farrar: Vincent Jackson, WR, SD
Vince Verhei: LenDale White, RB, TEN
Aaron Schatz: Derrick Mason, WR, BAL
Bill Barnwell: Kurt Warner, QB, ARI
Ned Macey: Hines Ward, WR, PIT

Round Five

Ned Macey: Dallas Clark, TE, IND
Bill Barnwell: DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI
Aaron Schatz: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, SD
Vince Verhei: Justin Gage, WR, TEN
Doug Farrar: Anthony Gonzalez, WR, IND
Jason Beattie: Philip Rivers, QB, SD

Round Six

Jason Beattie: Kevin "Who's the" Boss, TE, NYG
Doug Farrar: Antonio Gates, TE, SD
Vince Verhei: Amani Toomer, WR, NYG
Aaron Schatz: Santonio Holmes, WR, PIT
Bill Barnwell: Bo Scaife, TE, TEN
Ned Macey: Bernard Berrian, WR, MIN

Round Seven

Ned Macey: Pittsburgh defense
Bill Barnwell: Baltimore defense
Aaron Schatz: Tennessee defense
Vince Verhei: John Carney, K, NYG
Doug Farrar: Carolina defense
Jason Beattie: John Kasey, K, CAR

Round Eight/Nine

Jason Beattie: Philadelphia defense; Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR
Doug Farrar: David Akers, K, PHI; Michael Jenkins, WR, ATL
Vince Verhei: New York Giants defense; Heath Miller, TE, PIT
Aaron Schatz: Rob Bironas, K, TEN; Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, MIN
Bill Barnwell: Marvin Harrison, WR, IND; Neil Rackers, K, ARI
Ned Macey: Adam Vinatieri, K, IND; Jake Delhomme, QB, CAR

The Final Rosters


Final FO Playoff Fantasy Rosters
Pos. Ned Bill Aaron Vince Doug Jason
QB Jake Delhomme, CAR Kurt Warner, ARI Donovan McNabb, PHI Eli Manning, NYG Peyton Manning, IND Philip Rivers, SD
RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR Michael Turner, ATL Brian Westbrook, PHI Chris Johnson, TEN Le'Ron McClain, BAL Brandon Jacobs, NYG
RB Joseph Addai, IND Adrian Peterson, MIN LaDainian Tomlinson, SD LenDale White, TEN Derick Ward, NYG Jonathan Stewart, CAR
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI Reggie Wayne, IND Roddy White, ATL Anquan Boldin, ARI Vincent Jackson, SD Steve Smith, CAR
WR Hines Ward, PIT DeSean Jackson, PHI Derrick Mason, BAL Justin Gage, TEN Anthony Gonzalez, IND Muhsin Muhammad, CAR
WR Bernard Berrian, MIN Marvin Harrison, IND Santonio Holmes, PIT Amani Toomer, NYG Michael Jenkins, ATL Domenik Hixon, NYG
TE Dallas Clark, IND Bo Scaife, TEN Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN Heath Miller, PIT Antonio Gates, SD Kevin Boss, NYG
K Adam Vinatieri, IND Neil Rackers, ARI Rob Bironas, K, TEN John Carney, K, NYG David Akers, PHI John Kasay, CAR
D Pittsburgh Baltimore Tennessee Giants Carolina Philadelphia

Postdraft Comments

Ned Macey: The playoffs seemed particularly balanced to me this year. The only team I'm very confident will win its first game is Carolina, so I went with Williams and waited on Delhomme, which allowed me to get better receivers and Clark. Addai was a reach based on regular season fantasy numbers, but he looked healthy against Tennessee. I thought Fitzgerald was the last stud receiver, and I think Arizona wins one, or at worst, loses a shootout. So, I probably need a Colts-Carolina Super Bowl to win. I'm not sure I like those odds.

Bill Barnwell: I wish I could say I had a strategy for picking my team. I've tried them in previous years and have always been miserable in this competition despite being our "fantasy guy." My picks were mostly "Hey, he's still available? His team might make it to the Super Bowl!" The only way to win this thing is to pick the guys who last the longest, and no one has any idea who's making it to the Super Bowl. In other words, you might as well call my team "Crapshoot."

Aaron Schatz: I don't think I've ever seen so many players from fifth and sixth seeds chosen in the five years we've been doing this online. I originally decided that I should put my money where my mouth is and ride the Eagles. They at least should get two games, and I was planning to take Akers too but didn't get him. Eventually, I realized how many reasonable running back picks there are, between the fact that lots of teams have a good shot at this year's championship and the fact that most of those teams use a committee, so I think I may have jumped on Westbrook a little bit early. It's amazing -- Willie Parker and Ronnie Brown are still out there for "Best of the Rest" teams, and Norwood and Sproles make interesting picks if you believe in the Falcons or Chargers. On that point -- I believe in the Falcons over the Cardinals, whose defense has collapsed, so Roddy White should be a sweet pick. I think Colts-Chargers is the closest game in the first week and if the Chargers win, L.T. should be worth a ton for two games. My other AFC picks show how I have no idea who will win, although it won't be the Dolphins. Visanthe Shiancoe is Eagles insurance; he could be the top tight end of the playoffs if the Vikings upset Philadelphia.

Vince Verhei: Early on, I was thrilled to get my top running back, then my top quarterback, then my No. 2 wide receiver. I was uncomfortable going Titans-Titans at running back, but at the time I picked White, there were no other good options at runner or receiver. When the draft was done, I realized I was almost entirely reliant on the Giants and Titans, and that if either of those teams misses the Super Bowl, I'm probably screwed.

Doug Farrar: Manning and McClain were my no-brainers; outstanding players playing their best at the right time. Manning has been way past en fuego for half a season, and it’s a lot of fun watching McClain -- all 6 feet, 250 pounds of him -- running behind Lorenzo Neal and an unbalanced offensive line. Ouch! Ward strikes me as the NFL player most due a few touchdowns right now, especially depending on the health of Brandon Jacobs. Jackson and Gonzalez are my DYAR buddies (Jackson is especially underrated), while Jenkins was the late-round filler. Beyond that, my draft was based on two simple principles: Go with the hot hand, and stay the hell away from the Cardinals.

Jason Beattie: As the resident slacker cartoonist, I have the best gig in this draft, because the bar is set pretty low for me. With my first two picks, I snagged Jacobs as the best remaining running back (presuming he's actually healthy) and Steve Smith as the top wide receiver, figuring the pickings would already be lousy when it got back to me twelve picks later. Then based on those picks, I decided to build my team primarily around Carolina and the Giants. In retrospect, I suppose I should have taken more than one AFC player ... so, now I'm a reluctant Chargers fan. But at least I'm not putting any faith in Arizona like some of these so-called "experts."

Over/Under Wrap-Up

Before the season began, Vince and Ben picked Over/Under win totals for every team in the AFC and NFC. How'd they do? Poorly! Let it be known that both men finished below .500 in knowing which teams would be good and which would not. By a single pick Vince "wins" the contest with Ben -- which is actually even less impressive than winning the AFC West. At least Ben matched 16 Over picks with 16 Unders; Vince picked more Unders than Overs, which fits his cynical, pessimistic nature. The real lesson from this table: If Ben thinks you're going to struggle, expect to contend for the playoffs into December.


Overs Unders Total
Guy Correct Incorrect Percentage Correct Incorrect Percentage Correct Incorrect Percentage
Vince 8 7 0.533 7 10 0.412 15 17 0.469
Ben 8 8 0.500 6 10 0.375 14 18 0.438

Keep Choppin' Wood

Down 3-0 deep in New England territory, the Bills faced a third down just before halftime. A Fred Jackson run left them in great position to kick a game-tying field goal, and with 22 seconds, there should have been plenty of time to get the kicking unit on the field and ready to go. Instead, Bills center Duke Preston decided that would be a good time to pick a fight with the Patriots. The scuffle prevented the refs from even spotting the ball, let alone for the Bills to get set up, as the last seconds of the half ticked away, the Patriots skipped into the locker room, leaving the gobsmacked Buffalo team looking at each other, trying to figure out what had just happened. Duke Preston, this KCW's for you.

Colbert Award

Usually this award is given to the coach who shows the most courage by eschewing a punt and electing to go for it. This week, we're honoring a coach who elected to kick early. The Patriots faced a third-and-8 at their own 41, up 13-0 with 5:16 left in the fourth quarter. Rather try to pick up a first down in the season's most ridiculous wind conditions, Patriots coach Bill Belichick called for a quick kick. Matt Cassel's third-down punt caught the Bills completely off guard and rolled to a stop 57 yards later at the Buffalo 2, effectively ending the game.

Self-Promotion

The playoffs are ready to go, and before you know it the NFL season will be over, and with it your daily football fix here at FO. Where will you turn for your daily sports fix? We humbly recommend Vinny V's Sports Report, Vince's new blog focusing on the NFL and Seattle sports, or whatever else crosses his mind. It's also the home of Vince's *ahem* semi-regular podcasts. We're scheduled this Saturday to record a show with FO buddy Bill Barnwell discussing the Wild Card games, so be sure to check it out!

Comments

1
by B :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:56pm

The Colbert/KCW award duo really exemplifies the coaching differential between the Bills and the Patriots last week. Although I disagree that a running play was a good idea for the Bills in that situation. Without the fight, the refs would have spotted the ball with around 15 seconds left. Assuming the Bills can get the kicking team lined up in that amount of time, expecting a kicker to make a field goal in those wind conditions with no prep time is crazy. A pass play is probably foolish, though, as anything to the sidelines or end-zone would have been affected by the wind. I think spiking the ball just before the play clock stops and trying a comfortable field goal would have been the right choice, although it'd be far from a gimmie.

2
by Yuri (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:00pm

See how much fun those over/under predictions are in retrospect? I hereby repeat my call for Scramble writers to start picking games vs the spread in the next season (hey, it's not too late for the playoffs). I miss the boasting/agonizing exchanges...

Please bring back some sort of weekly contest between writers. Please.

3
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:07pm

"Santonio Holmes, NYG"

Pittsburgh fans' heads suddenly explode.

4
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:23pm

You didn't hear about the trade? The Steelers got Mark Bavaro in exchange.

5
by DGL :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:43pm

How was the losingest QB of the week Ben, not the pride of Seton LaSalle, Little Bruce Gradkowski? 5-16 (so exceeds the requirement for the penalty), 18 yards, one rush for two yards, and two interceptions is -4 points by my book.

Not that it affects my team, which got done in by Fred Taylor going on IR and Cedric Benson somehow becoming competent in the last three weeks.

8
by JasonK :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:27pm

I'd guess that Gradkowski wasn't even in the database of selectable players 8 weeks ago.

6
by superbears (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:56pm

QB: roethlisberger
RB: Sproles
RB: norwood
WR: washington
WR: curtis
WR: clayton
TE: celek
K: Elam
D: Indianapolis

If I was in the draft I would go for broke and pick only one team, you're either first or last

7
by hector :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:26pm

We used a serpentine draft, so the draft order switched every round. Also, to save time, everyone made two picks at a time in Rounds 8 and 9.

You guys are funny. What did that save, three minutes?

9
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:28pm

Actually, we had a great deal of difficulty getting everyone at a computer at the same time. The first two rounds took, seriously, about six hours.

10
by andrew :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:53pm

My "Best of the Rest" team:

QB - uh... Tarvaris Jackson? no, I must mean Chad Pennington
RB - Willie Parker - can't believe he got no love...
RB - Jerrius Norwood (the 370 will set in any time now for Turner, right?)
WR - Mark Clayton
WR - Ted Ginn, Jr
TE - Anthony Fasano
K - Jeff Reed
D - Vikings

Hrm. This entire team seems to hinge on the Dolphins beating the Ravens.

11
by phillyangst :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 5:34pm

Beattie got the sleeper pick... the Iggles D. Because he remembered that "DVOA loves Philadelphia"!!!

12
by DGL :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:46pm

My BOR:

QB: Roethlisberger
RB: Rhodes, Parker
WR: Breaston, Washington, Ginn
TE: Fasano
D: Miami
K: Elam

13
by Sean D. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 7:19pm

QB: Ryan
RB: Sproles
RB: Parker
WR: Floyd
WR: Clayton
WR: Ginn
TE: Heap
K: Kaeding
D: San Diego

14
by Dean from Oz :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 9:35pm

Best of the Rest

QB Roethlisberger PIT
RB Parker PIT / Rhodes IND
WR Washington PIT / Curtis PHI / Breaston ARI
TE Heap BAL
KI Reed PIT
DE IND

15
by MJB (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 7:19am

My Best of the Rest Team:

QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Pitt.
RBs: Correll Buckhalter, Phi. & Mewelde Moore, Pitt.
WRs: Kevin Curtis, Phi. & Hank Baskett, Phi. & Nate Washington, Pitt.
TE: L.J. Smith Phi.
K: Jeff Reed, Pitt.
D: Colts, Ind.

16
by starzero :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 11:22am

despite starting ronnie brown most of the season, i still won my fantasy league. is this a testament to the weakness of my league? no. what it shows is that each week at least one of my players did the work to put me over the top. i finished 10-3, then swept through the full-league playoffs. it's crazy that i took on the highest scoring team of the season and somehow won by 7 with an 82. that's just how it worked for me.

the kicker is that tied at 100 for the championship, i had tatum bell and he had antonio gates. go interchangable running backs.

that said, i'm not picking anything here. once the colts are out i'm done with football until the super bowl.

17
by Dave51 (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 4:27pm

How many points was Romo worth this week? No TDs and 3 turnovers.

18
by Bronco Jeff :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 5:02pm

Best of Rest:
QB Flacco
WR Clayton/Washington/Jones (TEN)
RB McGahee/Parker
TE Heap
K Stover
DEF Indianapolis

Baltimore had better win or I'm screwed.

19
by Parker W. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 6:58pm

Best of the Rest:

QB: Matt Ryan
RB: Willie Parker
RB: Chester Taylor
WR: S. Smith (NYG)
WR: Nate Washington
WR: Steve Breaston
TE: LJ Smith
D: Indy
K: Jason Elam

20
by Steve - Luckless Legs Owner! (not verified) :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 10:37am

I finished 4th overall during the Loser League during 1st half of the season. Just checked the standings for the 2nd half and I actually did better by finishing 2nd!!!!!

That just about mimics my performance in my real fantasy league by finishing with the least points...

Hopefully I'll get something to show for my astute powers of patheticness....

21
by caruthers (not verified) :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 11:11am

QB: Ryan, ATL
RB: Parker, PIT; Buckhalter, PHI
WR: Curtis, PHI; McCareins, TEN; Clayton, BAL
TE: Celek, PHI
K: Elam, ATL
D: IND

22
by Sid :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 1:33pm

Best of the Rest:

QB: Matt Ryan
RB: Willie Parker
RB: Dominic Rhodes
WR: Mark Clayton
WR: Steve Breaston
WR: Nate Washington
TE: Todd Heap
K: Matt Stover
DEF: Indianapolis

the trouble is I think Arizona wins, but I can't take the other QBs.

23
by Wes (not verified) :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 3:35pm

Best of the rest

QB - Roethlisberger
RB - Willie Parker, Norwood
WR - Mark Clayton, Breaston, Kevin Curtis
TE - Heap
K - Stover
D - Indy

24
by BigCheese :: Sat, 01/03/2009 - 4:08am

Best of the Rest

QB - Flacco
RB - Sproles
RB - Parker
WR - Clayton
WR - Washington
WR - Curtis
TE - Heap
K - Elam
DEF - Vikings

25
by Luke :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 11:46pm

QB Kerry Collins
RB Hightower
RB Fast Willie
WR McCareins
WR Washington
WR Avant
TE Crumpler
K Reed
D Cardinals

A Champion of the Lost Cause

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