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02 Nov 2005

Scramble for the Ball: Blast from the Past

by Ian Dembsky and Vivek Ramgopal

Ian: Well, as Steve Tyler would say, "I'm baaaaack in the saddle again." (Go on, sing it with me now... "I'm baaaaack!" Thank me when you're singing that the rest of the day.) For those of you who haven't been reading the column for awhile, allow me to introduce myself: Ian Dembsky here, fantasy sports addict and longtime Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan. I originally wrote this column with Al, before life ceased allowing me the time. Well right now, life isn't allowing Al the time, so I'm returning to my roots and filling in for Al for a few weeks. But enough about me, on to the wonderful world of football.

First off, I was treated to an early viewing of the St. Louis Rams going up against the Jaguars. And I say "treated" for one reason -- and its name is Steven Jackson. Have you seen this guy run? He turns sure losses into 1 or 2 yard gains. He runs over people. He jukes by people. He gets separation in the open field. He's simply amazing; and if you want to give Jamie Martin credit for leading the Rams to two straight wins, you're crediting the wrong guy.

Vivek: Come on, Ian. I was expecting Eminem lyrics instead of Aerosmith.

Ian is right about giving credit to the wrong guy, but what about placing a hell of a lot of blame on the Jaguars? This was an easy game plan for Jack del Rio. Injuries left the Rams with the deadly (note the sarcasm) passing attack of Jamie Martin to Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald, so all the Jaguars had to do was stuff the box and contain Jackson. Oh, and make a field goal. (Do I smell the KCW winner for this week?) Well, neither happened.

The Jaguars lost a chance to gain a bit of separation between themselves and the rest of the AFC wild card pack.

Ian: A lot of people have been hyping Byron Leftwich, and I understand why. We've all heard about (or even seen) him getting carried by his offensive linemen upfield in college, as he lead his team while on a broken leg. He's a warrior, he'll be there for your team, and he's a leader. But it's about time he started throwing the damn football well.

I mean, seriously, have you seen him throw the football lately? He and Donovan McNabb have the same problem, and it's that for some reason, half of their passes are either short-hops or airmails; basically not catchable. It's unbelievable to me how crappy many of the quarterbacks in this league are at delivering the football. And don't even get me started on Michael Vick.

And that's why guys like Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning are succeeding. It's a novel concept, but they almost always throw the football on target. Speaking of Eli, he led your Giants to a pretty dominating victory this weekend, eh?

Vivek: You wouldn't know it if you talked to Joe Gibbs. The Mr. Obvious Award this week goes to the Skins' coach, who noted on Monday that the Redskins run defense played well (allowing only 3.3 yards per carry) if you took out Tiki Barber's two big runs. Well, sure, if you remove runs of 59 and 57 yards, your stats look a lot better.

The Redskins' tackling has not gotten better (case in point, the lack of forced fumbles and opposing running backs breaking off long plays). Looking back to the Denver game in Week 5, Tatum Bell got into the end zone on runs of 34 and 55 yards. Sunday's injuries to Washington's front four will not make the situation any better when the Eagles come to town. Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin was not able to stay on the field because of a hip injury, while defensive tackle Joe Salave'a and defensive end Phillip Daniels left the game with foot injuries.

As averse to the run game as the Eagles have been this year, they need to get Brian Westbrook the ball in order to take advantage of Washington's injuries. The Eagles use short passes to Westbrook as their running plays, but he needs to run the ball consistently to get a better feel for the game. Look at Westbrook's carries per game for the season – 12, 15, 13, 9, 6, 10 and 13 – hardly the workload of a feature back.

Ian: And when did the Eagles start coming back in the Denver game on Sunday? When they started handing the ball off now and then! If all you do is pass, it makes life a lot easier on the opposing defensive line. They can speed rush around the outside without fear of a taking themselves out of a running play. Then, when the offensive lineman senses this and starts to drop back further in protection, you can pull the Dwight Freeney Special and spin it back inside for a free shot at the quarterback. The running game does more than just "balance" the offense; it keeps a defense honest. And with a shifty running back like Westbrook, you can really force the D-linemen to stay home on running plays.

Switching topics, I'd be remiss if I didn't discuss the Survival Pool killer of the season -- Tampa Bay's loss to San Francisco. Thank goodness I wasn't able to watch the game, because I might have broken a thing or two. But I've watched this game before…

The year is 1999. Tampa Bay's defense is at its absolute prime, and Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott in the WD-40 backfield are pounding the rock. And who is the Tampa quarterback? None other than Trent Dilfer. It's Week 1 of the NFL season, and the Bucs are at home against a Giants team coached by Jim Fassel and headed for a disappointing 7-9 season and third place in the NFC East. The Tampa defense dominates. The Giants are held to 1-of-14 on third downs, 27 yards rushing on 24 attempts, and a mere 107 yards of total offense.

But the Bucs have Trent Dilfer. On the Bucs opening drive, Dilfer fumbled the ball, and it was returned for a touchdown. In the third quarter, Trent threw an interception out of his own end zone for another defensive touchdown. Then, in the fourth quarter, Dilfer made the worst throw I've ever seen. As he was getting chased, and literally falling out of bounds, he threw the ball across his body trying to get it to someone for the first down. But the only player near the pass was a Giants defender.

It marked Dilfer's third interception of the day, and after the Giants gained no yards it turned into a field goal to make it a 17-13 win loss for the Bucs. Despite complete and utter defensive dominance, the game was lost thanks to turnovers converting directly to points.

Now… I'm not saying that Tampa's defense was completely and utterly dominating on Sunday; after all they gave up 100 yards rushing to Kevan Barlow (who's quietly putting together a very respectable season). But if not for two costly interceptions by Chris Simms in the second half that turned directly into field goals by the 49ers, Tampa would surely be 6-1 right now and alone again atop the NFC South standings.

Vivek: Yes, I too am one of those who have been slain by San Francisco this year. Not once, but twice – Week 1 against St. Louis and this past weekend. You would think that a team which held its opponents without a touchdown and allowed only 50 yards passing would come out on the winning side. Yet the Bucs let Commander Cody Pickett eat up five minutes en route to the game-clinching field goal. The same Cody Pickett that was on special teams earlier in the game. The same Cody Pickett that was the fourth string quarterback a few weeks ago.

But as Ian mentioned, two second half interceptions and a late fumble by Chris Simms killed any chance of a Tampa Bay comeback. Jon Gruden needs to make a change if Simms' decision making does not improve. At first glance his numbers looked decent, but the five sacks and three turnovers show that he needs time to adjust to the pro game. And with a crowd at the top of the NFC North, time might not be what Tampa Bay has.

Speaking of which, has anyone noticed that the sexy preseason NFC pick turned disappointment Carolina Panthers are now 5-2? After a loss to Miami dropped the Panthers to 1-2, a lot of folks were backtracking on their predictions of a division title. After the addition of cornerback Ken Lucas and the return of defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, I expected a defense that ranked near the top. Then the team lost Jenkins (again) to injury, but it has been the offense that has carried the team. Jake Delhomme has quietly put together a solid season while John Fox has effectively used DeShaun Foster to spell Stephen Davis.

Granted, the offensive explosion (26.6 points per game) has not come against any marquee defenses (Green Bay, Arizona, Detroit and Minnesota), but when the defense tightens up, the offense will not need to score that much to win.

My one concern is that the team is not getting the yardage on the ground that it should, only 3.1 yards per carry and 92 yards per game. With Foster and Davis sharing the load, it is only a matter of time before big runs come.

Scramble for the Ball Mailbag

Hi Guys. 1) Which Defense should I start out of these selections this week? New England, Cleveland, Jets, Seattle, Washington, or San Diego.

2) Please rank the following players in the order you would start them for Week 9: Randy "Decoy" Moss, Chris Chambers, Joe Jurevicius, Chris Brown, Mewelde Moore, Jerome Bettis, and Kevan "Big Game" Barlow (actually, he's been putting up decent numbers lately). Thanks, Tommy.

Vivek: San Diego versus the Jets or Seattle against Arizona. I'd lean towards San Diego with the chance of a Brooks Bollinger sighting in the Meadowlands.

Ian: Actually, it seems pretty certain that Vinny will be the starting QB for the Jets this weekend, but I definitely agree than San Diego is the best choice here, with Seattle a close second. If the Seahakws were at home I'd rate them first, but on the road Arizona's defense plays tough, so its offense probably won't need to be reckless with the ball.

As far as ranking those fantasy options, I have to admit I'm completely in the dark on Randy Moss right now. He's on my team as well, and has been killing me with his quitting the game after the first quarter performances. Of course, you can't really bench him, can you?

Here goes: Chris Brown (I hope no one actually started Travis Henry last week), Joe Jurevicious, Mewelde Moore (risky with Brad Johnson though), Chris Chambers (Laveraneus Coles put up some nice numbers against Atlanta a few weeks ago), Jerome Bettis (too much of a boom-or-bust player these days), then Kevan Barlow (look at what Clinton Portis did against the Giants last week)

Vivek: My only change is that I would put Chambers ahead of Moore. Moore did not have that one big game in October and did not get into the end zone either. Until Brad Johnson shows that he can beat you, defenses won't cheat to defend the pass.

Thanks for your help these past weeks. Anyways, may you kindly tell me which TE would you start this week M.Pollard or B.Troupe? Also which two receivers would you start out of this group: R.Smith, C.Chambers, J.Jurevicius, and A.Chatman? Excelsior, Randy.

Ian: Ben Troupe left Sunday's game with an injured ankle, and he is questionable to play this weekend. And in case you didn't notice, Minnesota's defense gets penetrated more than Tara Reid. Pollard is not only the better play here, but is among the better plays not named “Gates.�

As far as the receivers, Rod Smith may catch a cab, but he won't catch any passes on his bye week. I'd rank the others: Jurevicius, Chatman (become one of Favre's top targets, but Pittsburgh matchup is daunting), Chambers.

Here's a question about the 49ers from Natfre.

Over three months ago, in the over/under for the West Divisions, you wrote about the 49ers:

"Al: In the premiere edition of Scramble for the Ball two years ago, I asked myself, in print no less, 'Can I really lay money on a team of professional football players winning four games or less this season?' The answer was yes, as I correctly predicted the 2003 Cardinals would finish the year with fewer than five wins.

The question now is whether the 2005 49ers will be better than the 2003 Cardinals. You have to expect them to be better than the 2004 49ers, just because they can't get much worse."

Given that this year, through Week 7, the offensive DVOA is -55.7 percent and the defensive DVOA is 33.2 percent, and last year the DVOA for the 49ers offense was -19.9 percent and for defense it was 26.7 percent, it appears they have gotten worse. Any thoughts on how that has happened? It can't all be Alex Smith's fault, can it?

Ian: Yes, it really can be all his fault. Well, mostly his fault. Turnovers play a big role in DVOA calculations, and Alex Smith is a turnover machine. Not to mention a Loser League All-Star when he plays. One more question, this one from Peter in Reston, VA.

What am I going to do with my TEs? I've got Courtney Anderson (Oak) and Bubba Franks (GB) and I can only really be counted on to start the wrong one. Is either looking to have a decent game, or is there some diamond in the rough I might be able to snag at this point?

Ian: Courtney Anderson started off hot, but has become an absolute non-factor in the past few weeks. Drop him. The good news, though, is that Bubba Franks is back. A very nice game from him this past Sunday, and with Green Bay wide receivers dropping like flies, it's good for Favre to have one of his reliable receivers back on the field.

I doubt there's any “diamond in the rough� that has a better chance of outperforming him at this point. If you must have a name though, keep an eye on Tennessee's third tight end, Bo Scaife. When Ben Troupe went down with an injury last week, Scaife stepped up and caught 5 passes. Sure, they were only for 19 yards, but touches are most important for sleeper tight ends, because that often means more one-yard catches at the goal line.

Lessons Learned from Week 8

Lesson 1 – Denver is for Real

Ian: Wow, what a dominating performance by the Broncos on Sunday. Sure, Philadelphia's one-dimensional offense helped the Denver D look awfully good, but what about that Denver rushing game? Remember what the Eagles defense did to LaDanian Tomlinson last week? The Broncos have to be the first team in a while to have two running backs worth starting in fantasy leagues without even thinking about it. And the dominance of the running game is helping Jake's play-action passing work to perfection.

Lesson 2 – Donovan McNabb Ain't Right

Vivek: That might be a lesson from Captain Obvious, but it is becoming more evident that he is only going to get worse as the season progresses, to a point where he will become a detriment to the team. The Eagles have quickly fallen back to the rest of the pack.

When an All-World quarterback does not complete a pass until midway through the second quarter, something ain't right. When Donovan McNabb cannot throw across his body, something ain't right. When Donovan McNabb cannot throw the deep ball, something ain't right. See the pattern?

Lesson 3 – Once Again, Running Backs are the Kings of Fantasy Football

Ian: You hear it every year, but man oh man, is this season proving true the adage that running backs are the MVPs of the fantasy football world. How's the guy doing that drafted Daunte Culpepper this season? How about that Peyton Manning pick? Or Torry Holt or Randy Moss? Now how's the guy who drafted LaDanian Tomlinson or Shaun Alexander looking? Or Edgerrin James, or even LaMont Jordan? Running backs are tough warriors, and the good ones make much more difference than good players at other positions. If you have Shaun Alexander or LaDanian Tomlinson on your team, and you're in last place, just quit fantasy football right now.

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

Vivek: Is it just me, or are kickers losing their touch this year? Nine kickers who have attempted ten or more field goals have a 75 percent or worse success rate. Last year, only three regular kickers were that bad. Josh Scobee did his part to validate my theory on Sunday by missing both of his attempts (44 and 48 yards) in a three-point loss to the injury-depleted Rams.

Scobee was not the sole reason that the Jaguars lost, as Ned Macey writes in this week's Any Given Sunday, but just one of those two missed field goals would have tied this game.

Ian: How can you not give this week's award to Chris Simms? On a team where your defense dominates, you really only need to not turn the ball over and hand them the winning points. Maybe I'm biased, but he gets my award.

Loser League Update

Ian: And now, your Week 8 All-Loser Team:
QB: Jeff Garcia, DET – 7 points (197 pass yards, 1 interception)
RB: Jerome Bettis, PIT - 2 points (8 carries, 22 yards)
RB: Cadillac Williams, TB - 2 points (13 carries, 20 yards)
WR: Travis Taylor, MIN - 1 point (2 catches, 17 yards)
WR: Brandon Lloyd, SF - 1 point (2 catches, 18 yards)
K (tie): Paul Edinger, MIN – -1 point (1/1 XP, 0/1 FG)
K (tie): Josh Scobee, JAX – -1 point (3/3 XP, 0/2 FG)

Welcome back, Jeff Garcia!

This week's winning team was Manifest Destiny, putting up an awe-inspiring 21 points: Eli Manning (9), William Green (4), Cadillac, Lloyd, Santana Moss (3), and Matt Bryant (2). Let's face it, if you chose Santana Moss this year, you didn't get to think about winning many weeks.

One more week in Loser League Part I, and next week we'll have your chance to enter Loser League Part II.

Best Bets

Vivek: (1-2 last week, 10-17 overall)

You have to admire my consistency in getting one game right for the third straight week. Bonus points for picking Houston to win outright?

San Diego -6.0 over JETS

Pop Quiz: Who has more passing touchdowns on the season, the Jets offense or LaDainian Tomlinson? Trick question, it's a tie. That is a pretty accurate indicator of the Jets offense, which has also scored just one more touchdown than Tomlinson has scored on the ground. Hopefully Pete Kendall and Vinny Testaverde have gotten over their fumbling problems.

Giants -9.5 over SAN FRANCISCO

When was the last time the Giants were favored by this much? Well let me tell you – November 9, 2003 when they were 11 point favorites against Atlanta. The Giants wound up losing by 20 that week, but this will not be a repeat. Despite last week's final score, Eli Manning did not look sharp at all (as indicated by his 12-for-31 passing day). The brutal 49ers passing defense will give Eli the ability to hone his throws.

Colts -3.0 over NEW ENGLAND

If the 27th ranked Bills offense can drop nearly 400 yards on the Patriots, imagine what Payton Manning & Co. will do.

Ian: (Al was 2-1 last week, and is 18-8 overall)

I'm going to jump right in and give you 5 of my Best Bets.

Chicago -3.0 over NEW ORLEANS

Only three? Really? Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand why the line isn't bigger. Chicago's defense is starting to gel, and Aaron Brooks is still Aaron Brooks. The Bears will run a conservative offense that runs all over the hapless ‘Aints, and their defense will make sure they cover the spread.

Atlanta -2.0 over MIAMI

Michael Vick may not be able to pass well, but who cares? His impact on the team is far greater than the accuracy of his passing arm, and Atlanta's defense is playing extremely well. I can't see them losing to Miami, even outdoors.

NEW ENGLAND +3.5 over Indianapolis

I think this week New England realizes that running the ball is not a very good option due to injuries, so they'll have Brady run the shotgun, 4-wide offense and pick the Colts defense apart. And they'll most certainly be double-teaming Dwight Freeney on every play.

Domanick Davis +13.0 over JACKSONVILLE

Yeah, Houston sucks- But thanks to Domanick Davis and the upstart Jabar Gaffney (one more solid week and he should be on fantasy rosters), they seem to be getting better. I'll take the 13 points, even though it's on the road.

Seattle -4.0 over ARIZONA

Hard to take Arizona seriously; especially against a strong Seattle team coming off of a bye week.

Posted by: scramble on 02 Nov 2005

64 comments, Last at 10 Sep 2010, 2:57am by uggs outlet


by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 5:58pm

I did watch a lot of the 49ers-Bucs game, and I think Chris Simms' performance is being given a bit of a bad rap. For starters, the 49ers defense was finally healthy, which is to say they were a completely different unit than the one that got shredded by Arizona and even Washington. (I suspect Eli is going to find the 49ers defense tougher than advertised as well.) The 49ers gameplan was to double up on the outside receivers and force the Bucs to beat them either running the ball or by throwing to the backs and tight ends, who were no viable threat. Simms really didn't have anyone open for much of the day, and he was consistently in a position where he went through his reads and then had to pull the ball down and run, because there wasn't anything downfield. He wasn't as accurate as you would like, and he needs to have the situational awareness not to throw picks when his defense is holding up (although in fairness, one of the picks was a fluke where the ball hit the umpire and bounced straight up in the air). But the real issue was the Tampa receivers just not getting open.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 6:08pm

Actually, I think Eli's got some accuracy problems of his own. Even before the WAS game, his completion rate was only somewhere around 53%. The only Giants game I've seen this year was San Diego, and his passes seemed to sail on him quite often.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 6:12pm

Colts -3.0 over NEW ENGLAND
NEW ENGLAND +3.5 over Indianapolis

Hey, you guys are allowed to use different lines? Neat. Personally, I'd be betting up San Francisco +42 over NYG.

by ElAngelo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 6:21pm

Are bookmakers actually giving the Saints the customary 3 points for "home field" when they're the "home" team each week? If so, it's pretty darn dumb, I think.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 6:25pm

Yea, what #2 said. Eli brings a lot of things to the table as a QB, but accuracy isn't one of them. The reason he keeps succeeding is he can hand the ball off to Tiki Barber and he gets to throw to a tall WR or a big TE.

by Joon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 6:34pm

I watched the Skins-Giants game, and I don't think the rushing D problems for Washington have anything to do with tackling. Actually, they tackled pretty well (except for a couple of weak efforts in the secondary). On Barber's first run, he bounced outside and got some blocks, and ran untouched for 57 yards. The 59-yarder later was Barber starting to the inside, making one cut to get around left end, and again motoring untouched down the sideline until he was brought down at the 3. The problem on those two runs wasn't tackling, but overpursuit by the linebackers and bad angles taken by blitzing DBs. Also, good blocking by the Giants--credit where credit is due.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 6:58pm

I think I disagree on the JAX line... Domanick Davis's passing game is iffy, and I'm not sold on the special teams.

As a Tatum bell owner. I'm wondering if anyone else is getting skittish. Sure, his doing well, but not that well, and he might be better served as trade bait.

a) Eli Manning is overrated. the media lovefest is making me gag.
b) Welcome back, Ian! looking forward to you wiping the floor with everyone come playoff time.

by solarjetman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 7:05pm

Too bad I'm the poor bastard that picked Rudi Johnson. :( On the other hand I got Steve Smith with the third pick in a 20-person draft so that more or less makes up for it.

by kyle (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 7:24pm

i drafted daunte culpepper, and i'm still "quitely putting together a solid season"... actually, i'm doing it loudly and obnoxiously, but whatever.

i was also fortuitous enough to pick up Eli, Tiki, Cadillac and Willie Parker. and steve smith, thanks to something i read here on FO.

it would have been funnier just as "the plot of some rob schneider movie"... adding 'bad' in there is kind've redundant.

add me to the list of those who think the JAX line is ridiculous.

by Maynard (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 8:39pm

As far as the SEA/ARI game goes, doesn't Mike Holmgren have some truly heinous record after a bye? I remember hearing it frequently last year after the 'hawks blew a 21 point fourth quarter lead after their bye.
I still think Seattle is a mortal lock, but it is something to think about.

by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 8:45pm

Witten has a bye week, so I'm scraping the bottom of the waiver barrel.

Franks, Pollard, Heiden, Anderson or Kinney?

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 9:21pm

RE: Colts/Pats line

Ian commands so much respect that his bet moved the line, allowing Vivek to pick up the extra half point. :D

Sorry, I couldn't resist...

In the fantasy arena, My RB1 is Alexander, but I need an RB2 from: Portis, Parker, and Ronnie Brown. I'm still a little torqued at Portis, but I think he's the best bet here. Thoughts?

by Desmonkey (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 9:57pm

Re: 11

The only two I'd consider from your list are Kinney and Pollard, and I think I'd go with Pollard this week. As Ian stated, Minnesota is horrible against TE's - they've given up the second most fantasy points to TE's this season.

by Kuato (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 10:20pm

Is Bobby Engram worth a start at WR #3 this week? I've got TO and Harrison as my 1 and 2 and I'd be benching Chris Chambers to play him.

Of course if TO is hurt (like I read this morning) than I'll be playing Chambers and Engram.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 10:31pm

Start Chambers and Engram. I doubt TO will play this week, and even if he does - Engram's playing Arizona, for crying out loud.

by barto (not verified) :: Wed, 11/02/2005 - 11:57pm

Hey guys, first time commenter here at FO. Anyway, another TE question, as Jason Witten is on a bye for me as well. It's a 16-team league, however, so the likes of Pollard and Heiden are gone. Who would you grab:

- George Wrighster
- GB TEs Lee or Martin
- Cam Cleeland
- Wilcox (BAL)
- Shea (CLE)
- Gaines (CAR)

Ugly as it comes, I know.

by Björn (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 12:40am

He might be listed at running back in some leagues, but take a look at Mike Sellers of Washington if you are low. Cooley might be hurt (haven't checked) and Sellers has caught some touchdowns this year. And he used to play for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, my favourite CFL team.

"Yet the Bucs let Commander Cody Pickett eat up five minutes en route to the game-clinching field goal."

So if Pickett is Commander Cody, should we call the 49ers the Lost Planet Airmen?

by X (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 1:16am

I have Witten as well, so i'm looking in the waiver wire for a scab TE. Some favorable matchups for tight ends appear to be vs. New England, who is a ludicrous +101% DVOA vs. TEs, and Carolina who also has a high DVOA vs. TEs, and has had good TEs have good days against it all year. The TEs that would take advantage of those matchups are Dallas Clark of the Colts, and either Becht or the other Alex Smith, both of the Bucs. Both are free agents in my league right now. Other FAs: Bubba Franks vs. Pittsburgh, and the above-mentioned Scaife. Which one should I use for Witten's bye week?

The player I'm thinking of dropping to put in the TE is David Gabriel, the 3rd or 4th reciever for the Raiders, who actually saw playing time when Moss was injured. With Moss back, does anyone really think he'll get many catches when the Chiefs play the Raiders, given he got no catches last week when the Raiders played the Titans?

by Ben Roethlisberger (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 1:23am

Everyone wanted to worship the ground Peyton Manning walked on, but Peyton turned out to be a jackass, and Eli hasn't shown himself to be like that yet. This is why the media desperately wants to coronate Eli King of Civilization -- everyone's throwing their hopes for what they wanted Peyton to be upon him.

by Charlie Batch (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 3:48am

Please someone put me on a fantasy team. I am really really planning to start this week. Really. I hope.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:20am

Re #2: The 49ers gameplan was to double up on the outside receivers and force the Bucs to beat them either running the ball or by throwing to the backs and tight ends, who were no viable threat.

I'm sure Michael Pittman, the #5 rated receiving RB in the entire NFL according to both DVOA and DPAR, disagrees with this statement.

Re #7: For good reason. I've been saying all along, Tatum Bell will not be the featured back in Denver this season. Even if Anderson goes down, I see Dayne getting a liberal amount of carries. Bell has never had more than 17 career carries, and Shanahan has said multiple times that he's concerned about Bell wearing down. In addition, Bell's playing special teams on occasion, and Anderson is not.

Personally, I believe that as long as he keeps averaging 10 yards per carry, he's going to have a lot of value. Personally, I don't believe he's going to keep averaging yards per carry. Personally, I've thought all along that Anderson was the back to own. Bell may be flashy, but I'll take the carries, any day of the week.

If anyone in your league is still harboring that "Tatum Bell will steal the featured role" fantasy, take advantage of them before it's too late. Remind them of what monster numbers he'd be putting up if he just got 20-25 carries a game, and then neglect to mention that he'll probably never get 20-25 carries a game.

Re #11: If that's the "bottom of the barrel", then I think you should count yourself lucky. Any one of those guys are borderline starter-caliber every week of the year. Except for Heiden. See #16 for what the bottom of the barrel REALLY looks like at TE.

Re #14: Owens is doubtful, which means 25% chance of playing or less. Pay attention to news during the week, but I suspect he'll be riding your pine. Don't fret, Engram's a real fantasy dynamo. In fact, in one of my leagues, I currently have 4 roster spots devoted to Seattle WRs. Basically, whichever 2 WRs start in Seattle are worth starting in fantasy, regardless of their names. Engram and Jackson were something like #3 and #4 in the NFL in receptions before they both got injured.

Re #18: One of these things is different, one of these things doesn't belong. Grab Bubba Franks and run. He and Donald Driver are all Favre has left to throw to these days- and throw Favre shall.

by ammek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:03am

Vivek, there is indeed "a crowd at the top of the NFC North" - albeit a crowd of teams struggling to make .500 - but Tampa isn't among them, as you'd expect from the word "North"...

by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:05am

Neither Pittman nor Williams established themselves at all on Sunday. Hence, they were not viable threats...

by Fast Eddy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 6:12am

Kibbles, if Tatum Bell gets 17 carries and on 2 of them he runs for 50 yards, that would have a tendency to "wear him down" and might be the reason Shanahan doesn't give him the ball more. I mean, if the guy's always on the sideline for a blow after another monster run, it's hard to give him the ball more...

by Fast Eddy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:09am

Regarding Eli's accuracy problems, I'm not going to argue that he's accurate or anything. But if you have a very tall WR and you throw it high so that only he can catch it, or otherwise it goes out of bounds, that's actually pretty good accuracy. Exactly what you want to do as a QB.

There was one game this weekend (can't remember which dammit), where the QB threw a high ball to the TE at the back of the end zone. The TE made a miraculous one handed grab, so it got a lot of play on the highlights. No one seemed to mention that this was actually a damned good throw. Either the TE catches it, or no one does.

Seems to me that a good QB will know the 'envelope' of what his WR can catch and try to throw to the edge of that envelope to minimize picks. So Eli, if he's any good, is going to throw at the outer range of Plaxico's reach, which is a very long reach.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 8:35am

I've tried not to ask for advice here but I'm in a real bind.

QBs: Dilfer, McCown, or Aaron Brooks? (Bulger is injured and Carr is a bust)

Then I have 2 WRs, 2 RBs, and a Flex position, which guys should start?
Jimmy Smith
Plaxico Burress
Santana Moss
Eric Moulds
Joe Horn
Tiki Barber
Bryant Westbrook
Fred Taylor

I have too many recivers that can give me points, but aren't consistent locks - at least I don't think they are.

by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 11:36am

Regarding the incongruent point spreads, clearly Vivek made his picks early in the week (Monday or maybe Sunday night), while Al waited until yesterday. The Giants game opened at 9.5, but quickly moved to 10 and then 10.5. The Colts game was at three until about yesterday.

by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 11:54am

RE #26

Smith, Burress, Barber, Taylor, and Westbrook (I'm assuming you mean Brian, not Bryant).

I think Smith should be an automatic lock start (who else does Delhomme throw to?), Burress and Barber are playing the 49ers, and Taylor is playing the Texans. And I'd play a #1 RB over a #1 WR as a matter of principle, although Moss could be a good play as well.

by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 11:55am

Oops! You said Jimmy Smith and I thought Steve Smith. Well, I think he's still a good play against the Texans.

by Mike M (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 1:13pm

Plummer on bye this week. Should I go Orton @ NO, Frerotte v ATL, Dilfer v TEN, Carr @ JAC, or (gasp) Batch @ GB?

by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 2:23pm

In lesson number 3, They said that if you have LT on your team and you are in last place you should quit fantasy football. Well I have LT, Carson Palmer, TO and the colts defense and I have only 2 wins! Why you ask? Because every freakin player on the teams I face has a career day when they are agains me! I have put up the 3rd most points for but I have given up the most points by a WIDE margin. I had a good draft but I am being beaten by teams that should not be able to even get on the field with me.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 2:24pm


We're allowed to alter our Loser League rosters? (Joke, I promise. Don't go all Denver on me.)

If Johnson vs. Detroit is available, he's a better pick than any of those, but if he isn't, go with Orton. You never know which Saints team is going to show up, and Kyle has been OK of late.

by MCS (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 2:47pm

Nice use of "Denver"

by iyyi (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 3:10pm

Pick two:

Portis vs Phi, Martin vs SD, C Brown @ Cle, J Lewis vs Cin

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:09pm

"Engram’s playing Arizona, for crying out loud."

This wouldn't be the same Arizona that's 1.5% behind the vaunted Eagles secondary in DVOA, is it?

Besides, everyone knows Shaun Alexander is the Cardinals nightmare.

by Rex (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:29pm

Does anyone think that Viking WR's and Wiggins may actually improve with Brad Johnson as QB?

He may be better at short passes and getting the ball to WR's, since Culpepper likes to throw deep or scramble. Are the smart players trying to trade for Wiggins, Burlson, etc or are they trying to dump them?

by bob (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:37pm

Who to start this week? Portis @ Eagles or M. Moore vs. Lions. Note that scoring is point per reception.

by jimmy jimmerson (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:45pm

keep choppin wood. scobee would have needed to produce on both FG misses, atleast. the ramsies ended the game on the 4 yrd line (thanks to stevie jacks) taking knees. if it would have mattered they prob could have scored a TD, but at the very least a chip-in FG for a 6 pt W. yes scobee did miss 2 of 'em, but 48 yarders are hardly gimmees, even indoors. BAM

by Zac (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:05pm

Can I do images here? I'll try it anyway. Found this somewhere.

It was in the preview, so it should work. The Burger King strikes again!

by Zac (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:06pm

But then it got cut out. Click my name for the animated gif instead.

by Ben Roethlisberger (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 8:58pm

Re: #25

That's also an excellent way to get Plaxico killed. At the very least, it would earn Eli some dirty looks from Plaxico in the huddle if he was intentionally throwing it over his head so he has to jump and reach for it.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 9:16pm

This wouldn’t be the same Arizona that’s 1.5% behind the vaunted Eagles secondary in DVOA, is it?

Hey, hey, hey! That's just plain mean. Arizona's not a good team. Neither are the Eagles this year, mind you, but there's no reason to taunt.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:46am

Re #24: Yes, if he kept getting pulled out because of his big runs, that would explain why he wasn't getting more than 17 carries. But he's not. He's getting pulled out after ALL of his runs, long or short. Why? Because he's the change of pace back. If he was the guy getting the majority of the carries, he wouldn't be called the "change of pace" back, he'd just be the "pace" back. And Anderson would be the "change of pace back".

Tatum has never gotten more than 17 carries regardless of WHEN his long runs came. For instance, he was playing pretty bad against the Eagles, not a single long carry through the fourth quarter, and he still only had 8 or 9 carries. And then he broke a 67 yarder and salvaged respectability for the day, but that doesn't explain why he only had 8 or 9 at that point to begin with. And the simple answer is that Shanahan really isn't going to ever give him a ton of carries, because he's worried about him wearing down.

I would never bank on a 20 carry day from Tatum Bell. Never. Unless he gets named the starter, in which case, all bets are off. Even if Anderson goes down, though, I wouldn't be surprised to see Dayne leapfrog Bell to become the starter and log the 20+ carries, keeping Bell in his change-of-pace role.

So anyway, the whole point of this is, I would be extremely leery of starting Bell in fantasy football. Yes, he's had lots of good games recently. Of course, he's averaged right around 10 yards per carry in all of those games, and I really believe that you can't ever bank on an RB averaging 10 yards per carry in a game. Not even Tatum Bell. I mean, in the Eagles game, if he doesn't break the 67 yarder at the end, his fantasy performance is utter trash. Of course, he DID break the 67 yarder, and his day WASN'T trash, but one of these weeks he's not going to break that long run that redeems him, and you'll be stuck with a 12 for 36 performance from your starting fantasy RB. I've been aggressively trading him while his value is still high in all leagues I own him in.

by Fast Eddy (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:50pm

Re #41: Not defending Eli. He's probably just inaccurate. But throwing high to Plaxico on the sidelines isn't going to get him killed. Throwing high to Jeremy in the middle will get Jeremy killed, but I haven't seen that happen very much.

Anyway, I like Eli because he pulled off the single greatest play this season so far. I've watched it several times. You know the one: Week 6 against Dallas, down by a TD and time for one last drive. 52 seconds left, Eli goes into shotgun, he steps up, makes a SPIN MOVE to get away from a rusher, runs forward and fires to Plaxico for a big gain. Great play! (Next play he throws to Jeremy in the endzone for a tie, which they lose in OT.)

Tends to be accurate when he needs to be. Which is probably why everyone is so enamored of him. Beats Jeff Garcia throwing on the run across his body in OT and getting picked by Chi for a TD. Or Favre throwing into triple coverage with the game on the line.

We'll see if he can keep doing it as the season goes on. The great ones, like Montana, get calmer under pressure and do it over and over, the lousy ones don't.

by Nolan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 1:10pm

What do people think about McNabb this week? He's been putting up decent fantasy numbers while injured, but now he's hurt his ribs as well and may be without TO. Is this the week that I should go to Delhomme, or will I regret that?

by Dan in LA (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 2:50pm

OK, Running Backs - I can choose two of the following 5:

Warrick Dunn (at Miami), Chester Taylor (Cincinnati), Priest Holmes (Questionable, Oakland), Michael Pittman (Questionable, Carolina), Curtis Martin (Probable, San Diego).

Don't ask me why I have 5 RBs on my roster, I guess I'm a pack rat.

by MCS (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 2:52pm


Do you realize that you just used the words "Dayne" and "starter" in the same sentence? Shanahan must be a genius.

by Dodd (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:30pm

RE: Running backs = Kings

You are so right. I'm in three different leagues. I was near the bottom of the draft order in all three. In one league I drafted D. Davis first, in another R. Moss, and in another D. Culpepper. I have winning records in all three, but where I'm just keeping my head above .500 in the latter two, in the league I drafted a RB first, I am the only undefeated team (of course, that team also drafted McGahee, Gates, Palmer, and S. Smith - in that order - the next few rounds after Davis, who has underperformed them all).

by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:36pm


No bonus points. Houston was favored. I picked them also, and picking on that game was only slightly tilted towards Cleveland.

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:54pm

Ian, can you give maybe a little more information on what your rationale is for picking Seattle over Arizona. I know there is a propensity on this site to kind of just say "oh it's Arizona" as there is at a lot of place. At least here at Football Outsiders it's recognized that NFC West teams, for whatever reason, play much better at home and the line in that game is just big enough to make the choice questionable just because "it's Arizona" and Seattle is coming off a bye week.

First, I assume you don't care that Seattle hasn't won after a bye week in some time. I can't say I do either. However, looking at Arizona this year we get what seems to be a typical NFC West performance. On the road, Arizona is abysmal. Blown out at New York opening day, blown out at Seattle, blown out last week in Dallas. But then you turn it around and look the home games;

Against the Rams they play close all game and then with 1:52 left they drive down to the Rams 5 with first and goal before a Warner sack and a then a Leonard Davis false start ends the game with a 10 second run off. Point is, they keep it close and were in position to win.

Against Carolina the Cards are leading 20-10 going into the 4th quarter. They do give up 14 points but drive to the Carolina 33 before McCown throws a pick. They start their last possession in good field position but a delay of game leads to a 3rd and long then a 4th and long that they almost pull off. Point is, they keep it close and were in a position to win.

Next is Tennessee where they win 20-10. So they are averaging 17 points allowed at home compared to almost 38 on the road. I didn't count the 49ers game because that was not a real home game.

If these were straight up picks then Seattle is a good pick but with the 4 points going to Arizona it just doesn't seem like the gimme your comment makes it out to be. So I'd like here more about what you think about this game.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 6:48pm

Shanahan must be a genius.

I thought that was a given. Dayne's barely run at all this year, but he's logging over a 4-yard average on the 13 carries he does have, and has a positive rushing DVOA.

Heck, I thought it was a given that even if Shanahan makes Dayne look mediocre he's a genius, and right now he's "slightly better than mediocre."

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 10:48pm

Re #48: Runningbacks aren't king. Sure, everyone who drafted Manning/C'Pep in the first is complaining now, but so is everyone who drafted Deuce McAllister, Curtis Martin, Kevin Jones, or Julius Jones, and it sounds like Holmes owners will be soon, too. Your first three rounds will NEVER decide your fantasy season. It's always rounds 5-12 that decide who gets the championship and who doesn't. For instance, I've got one league where my first four picks were Deuce McAllister, Andre Johnson, Javon Walker, and Drew Bennett (I had Tiki Barber and Brian Westbrook as keepers, though). I'm currently the second highest scoring team in the league thanks to later-round gems like Santana Moss, Steven Jackson, Joey Galloway, Mark Bulger (pre-injury), Mewelde Moore, Terry Glenn, Thomas Jones, Mike Anderson, etc. Teams that took LT in the first round aren't winning their leagues. Teams that took Edgerrin James in the first round and Steve Smith in the seventh are. I mean, someone could have gotten Tomlinson, Alexander, and Edgerrin James, and they'd still be losing to a team that snagged Thomas Jones, Mike Anderson, Steve Smith, Santana Moss, Plaxico Burress, Donald Driver, Carson Palmer, and Jeremy Shockey all in the 6th or later.

That said, Runningbacks are, indeed, the most valuable commodity in fantasy football, since they're also the scarcest... but who you draft in the first round will never determine who wins the championship. It's always who you draft in the later rounds. For instance, in one league, the guy who won the championship drafted Ricky Williams, Marshall Faulk, and Travis Henry with three of his top 4 picks. He also got Curtis Martin and Tiki Barber, though.

Re #47/51: Hey, come on now. Bobby Turner and Gary Kubiak deserve some credit, too.

by jimmo (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 1:25am

I'd have to say that in 2002, the first three rounds did decide my season. The season after drafting Holmes as a flier on KC, I concluded that he was a bit fluky and figured I could wait on him until the second round, so I brilliantly chose Corey Dillon, fantasy killer, with the eighth pick. Holmes went fifteenth, 3rd pick of the second round, two picks before me.
Three backs were picked after I chose Dillon: James, Eddie George and Holmes, and I'm pretty certain (now) Dillon wouldn't have been one of those choices. I've done the math; had I flipped those two picks (picking Holmes first, then Dillon, thus ridding me of Anthony Thomas in the process), I'd have made the Championship game, and lost becuase Holmes was out. Instead, I missed the playoffs.
insult to injury, in round three I was still looking for a back and decided that William Green was the best guy left and chose him over another rookie, mainly because Portis hadn't yet won the job in Denver. That was a long year.

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 11:48am

QB question:

Which two to start out of the following three, Palmer, Delhomme, and Eli Manning?

by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 1:11pm

ugh. Injured Dillon or not-injured Moore? DET has a better run defense, but... injured... but pass is hurt... but... AGH! My head hurts.

by bob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 1:44pm

Who to start. Have Portis, Dillon & Moore (start 2 and point per reception). Also have a trade offer to me Jamal Lewis for Rod Smith. Thoughts?

by Zac (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 7:49pm

I'm in a 20 team league, and have Roethlisberger as my normal starter. As you can do the math and figure out, some people aren't going to have backups, and I was one of them. So for starters this week on the waiver wire, I have Cody Pickett and Vinny Testaverde. I should take Testaverde, right?

by ZH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:19pm

That is exactly the 'Skins defense's problems MR. Gibbs. The 'Skins D is #8 in adj line yrads, but is dead last in 10+ yard rank, giving up 10+ yard runs 33% of the time.
Just for some perspective, the #31 team in 10+ rank is the Bills at 27% and the #30 NO/BR/SA/NY Saints are at 23%.
Could it be that the 'Skins secondary and LB's are having some tackling problems Mr. Gibbs?

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:55pm

The 10+ stat means percentage of rushing yards allowed that come further than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. So for a 17 yard run, 10 go to the line yards and the remaining 7 go to the 10+. If Washington were giving up runs more than 10 yards 1 out of 3 times they'd probably be winless.

Still, not good.

by ZH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 11:15pm

RE: all the comments an Eli's inaccarucy
Eli's low completion is in part due to playing in what can be described as the anti West Coast offense. The Giants rarely run very short routes with WR's, and call for a lot of very deep passes. This does match up well with their receiving corps strengths, but it makes Eli's stats look worse than they really are.
QB rating takes comp% and yds/att too much into account, and TD-INT too little and yds/comp not at all. Eli's 13-5 ratio ratio is among the best in the league and the Giants 13.6 yds/comp is #4 in the league [I could not find a site that broke down yds/comp by QB, only by team and receivers (in the form of yds/catch), but Eli has thrown every pass for the Giants this season]
Many of the all time greats had QB ratings around 80 since they played before these modern day high completion % offenses. The NFL started using the current system in 1973. Between then and 1984 the 100 QB rating mark was reached once. Since then it has been reached over 20 times. And the mid 70's was when QB ratings began to rise.
Len Dawson (played '57-'75) had a career QB rating (based on modern calculations) of 82.6 and a comp% of 57.1. Bob Greise ('67-'80) was 77.1 and 56.2%. Bart Starr ('56-'71) was 80.5 and 57.4%. Fran Tarkenton ('61-'78) was 80.4 and 57%. Johnny Unitas ('56-'73) was 78.2 and 54.6%.
These QB's are all-time greats and are in the HOF and all played before the introduction of the high % offenses in mid '80's. Yet by todays standards their #'s look average, but when one realizes what their systems were, one sees them in a different light relative to modern QB's. And Eli's #'s match up fairly decently to these QB's, in that his comp% is a bit lower but his TD-INT ratio is this season is better than the career #'s of anyone on that list.
Anyway, as anyone coach will tell you a good QB is one who scores without turning over the ball much and makes all the necessary plays, and that is what Eli does.

by ZH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 11:19pm

RE: # 59
Thanks for the correction. I don't look often at the d-line stats and when I do it is usually only at the adj line yards and adj sacks rate.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 2:44pm

Boo-yah. I have to gloat somewhere. I think I won the first half of the Loser League :)

Big thanks to Kevan Barlow, David Carr, and Ike Hilliard

by Björn (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:34pm

RE: #17 - "He might be listed at running back in some leagues, but take a look at Mike Sellers of Washington if you are low. Cooley might be hurt (haven’t checked) and Sellers has caught some touchdowns this year. And he used to play for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, my favourite CFL team." -Me

I feel very smug after Sellers' touchdown.

by uggs outlet (not verified) :: Fri, 09/10/2010 - 2:57am