Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Futures: Maurice Hurst

A heart condition discovered at the combine has put the Michigan lineman's career in limbo, but Hurst had the best film of any defensive tackle in this year's draft class.

05 Oct 2005

Scramble for the Ball: The Second Quarter

by Al Bogdan and Vivek Ramgopal

Al:Is it too soon for us to re-think the playoff predictions we made just a month ago? I don't think so. In fact, I think it's time for everyone's fourth-favorite Scramble for the Ball semi-regular feature, Off the Wagon. For those of you just joining us, this is where Viv and I get a second chance at our playoff predictions after watching teams play actual games over the first month of the season. Here's our opportunity to admit our mistakes and replace our previous playoff picks with who we now think will be playing in January. However, there is a catch. Once you jump off a team's playoff bandwagon, you can't jump back on. So, if I decide that I'm giving up on my prediction that the Cardinals will be a wild card team in the NFC, I can take it back. But if they go undefeated the rest of the year and waltz into the playoffs, I've given up the right to say that I predicted it. Sound good?

Vivek: I already know that it will be hard to beat last year's predictions, which saw the Outsiders take the top prize in King Kaufman's NFL Preseason Predictions Contest. Not only have Jamal Lewis, Dante Culpepper and Chad Pennington started the demise of my fantasy football team, but they are killing my preseason predictions. Cadillac running like a Hummer and the Redskins' escaping by the slimmest of margins have me moving around some of my choices.

Off the Wagon

2005 NFC Preseason Predictions
AL Eagles Bears Panthers Seahawks Cardinals/Cowboys
VIVEK Eagles Vikings Panthers Rams Falcons/Cardinals

2005 NFC Predictions - Week 5
AL Eagles Bears Panthers Rams Giants/Cowboys
VIVEK Eagles Vikings Bucs Rams Falcons/Panthers

Vivek: The Panthers needed that Monday night win badly, even realizing this is a team that just missed the playoffs after a 1-7 start last year. This is one of the most frustrating preseason picks for any prognosticator out there. A healthy Stephen Davis was supposed to anchor a bruising ground game, but it has actually regressed compared to last year. With the Panthers having a healthy Kris Jenkins and two cornerbacks capable of disrupting passing schemes, I envisioned a defense similar to one that the Ravens had during their Super Bowl season. Instead, Kris Jenkins suffered his second season-ending injury in as many seasons, and the defense has not been able to get to the quarterback, pick off passes, or penetrate the line to stuff opposing running backs.

I am not completely hopping off the wagon for the Panthers, just lowering my expectations a bit and giving the division crown to Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers pimped their ride this off-season with Cadillac Williams. A hamstring injury could be a blessing in disguise for someone who was on pace for 470 carries. If that continued -- considering he only had 240 carries last year at Auburn -- I could have made it a Best Bet that Williams would have broken down by Week 10. On the other side of the ball, the Bucs have no problem stopping the run. No opposing back has broken off a run of more than 14 yards, and Tampa Bay has allowed a paltry 61.5 yards per game on the ground.

Al: I'm not sold on Tampa just yet. I like what Michael Pittman can do on the football field, even though he hasn't exactly been a family guy off the field. Even if Cadillac Williams' hamstring limits his ability the rest of the year, the Bucs will still be able to run the ball. Brian Griese is going to cost this team a few games with his turnovers. He has revitalized Joey Galloway's career so far this season, but Griese has also padded the stats of opposing defenders by throwing some beautiful interceptions into their waiting arms.

I also wouldn't go crazy thinking the Bucs are having some sort of reunion of their 2002 Super Bowl defense. Let's look at who they've beaten this year. Minnesota, Buffalo, Detroit and Green Bay have been four of the worst teams in the league so far this year. The Bills are the cream of the crop, at #20 in DVOA. The Vikings and Packers have huge problems on their offensive line that have contributed to their struggles running the ball. Detroit and Buffalo have quarterback problems that have prevented them from doing anything on offense. Yes, Tampa has played all four well, but it's not like the Bucs have been shutting down the 2004 Colts every week.

Tampa has a two game lead on Carolina right now, but I still like the Panthers' chances of winning the division because of their upcoming schedule. Both teams could win out before meeting in Tampa in Week 9. After that, though, Tampa's schedule is much tougher than Carolina's. The Panthers only have one road game that looks to be tough in the second half, finishing the season at Atlanta. Tampa also has Atlanta on the road, as well as New England and the second half of their home and home against the Panthers.

We're forgetting, however, about Atlanta here. With the likelihood of the Matt Schaub Experience taking flight in Atlanta increasing every week, I can't predict the Falcons to keep up their pace all season long.

In fact, I'm not sure either of those teams will be able to win the wild card in the NFC. There may be two teams with under .500 records in the NFC playoffs as division winners, but with the surprising strength of the NFC East, you're going to need at least ten wins to make the wild card. The Giants don't have a tough out-of-division road game left on their schedule. If they were facing tougher teams away from the Meadowlands, I'd be nervous about if Eli and the Giant offense can keep up their pace. But against the 49ers, Seahawks, and Raiders, there's no reason to expect they can't score enough to win on the road.

Vivek: I have increased my respect for the Redskins in the past week or so, but my DC-area neighbors down here keep telling me that there is no room on this bandwagon. It's not pretty at all, but the Redskins keep doing what it takes to win. Take Sunday's win against Seattle. The Skins converted a ridiculous 13 of 18 third downs, and ten of those were of seven yards or longer. During the past two Washington games, I've been screaming at the TV, “Who are you and what have you done with Mark Brunell?� The arm strength that was missing last year has suddenly emerged. If Brunell can stay healthy and the Falcons' passing attack never gets going, the Redskins are next in line for a playoff spot in the weak NFC.

Al: I'd still take Dallas and the Giants over Washington to win a wild card spot. The Redskins have a great defense, even with Lavar Arrington on the sidelines, thanks to their great secondary led by #24 Shawn Springs. Without an improved offense, however, I don't see how this team wins on the road against Denver, Kansas City, or St. Louis. I wouldn't be surprised to see this team lose five of their next six and quickly fall out of contention.

That doesn't mean, however, that the Redskins wouldn't win the NFC North in a cakewalk if they were just lucky enough to play in that division. Chicago has looked awful, but there's really no reason for me to move away from them as my pick to win the division, even though I think they'll lose this week. Make no bones about it, the Bears are awful. But they'll still be in first place even after falling to 1-3. I'm sticking with them because their defense is clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the division. I'm not convinced they are the best defense in the NFL, which our team efficiency rankings show them to be after three games, but they're good enough to win at least a half dozen games. That's all you need to win the NFC North.

Al: I've lost all faith in the Seahawks in the NFC West. There's no reason to think they'll win a game on the road this year. Games against the Cowboys, Giants, and Colts are all easily losable, even if all those teams have to play in Seattle's house. It's not that I'm at all confident in the Rams, but two of their road games are in domes, playing to the team's strengths, and they already have one road victory this year. 8-8 wins this division.

2005 AFC Preseason Predictions
AL Patriots Ravens Colts Chiefs Steelers/Chargers
VIVEK Patriots Ravens Colts Chiefs Steelers/Chargers
2005 AFC Predictions - Week 5
AL Patriots Steelers Colts Chiefs Bengals/Chargers
Vivek Patriots Steelers Colts Chiefs Bengals / Chargers

Al: I didn't realize that we had the exact same playoff picks in the AFC. Even though Miami is in first place (and, as I said last week, I wouldn't be shocked if they won the division) I can't move away from my pick of the Patriots just yet. Sure, the Patriots' defense couldn't do anything right at home against the Chargers. But I just don't have enough confidence that Miami's defense can carry them to victories all year. Combine that with the quarterback problems in Buffalo and New York, and New England is still the king of the hill in the East.

Vivek: The Ravens have been a major disappointment to me. I honestly believed that Jamal Lewis had a shot at a 2000-yard season. With the additions of Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, Jamal Lewis has been facing fewer eight-man fronts. Unfortunately for Baltimore, the passing game has been just as bad as the rushing attack. The Ravens' offensive line has been brutal, which sounds very strange given that Jonathan Ogden is still there. Even with an extremely weak remaining schedule (Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Green Bay, Cleveland twice), it's now likely that the Ravens will be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

Al: Thankfully, the Jets were away, so I had the Eagles-Chiefs game on FOX to rescue me from watching that awful game between Baltimore and New York. I've been disappointed in the Ravens as well. I can't see them even making the playoffs at this point. Who would have thought they could actually downgrade from Kyle Boller at quarterback? In the past, the Ravens have been able to stay in contention even without an effective offense because of their stacked defense. But the Ravens defense has not played up to the level we have expected of them. If not for his receivers' inability to catch anything thrown to them on Sunday, even Brooks Bollinger would have been able to move the ball against Baltimore. At best, the Ravens will finish with 10 wins, which might not be enough to make it as a wild card.

I'm still not going to put the Bengals in as division champs, though. They've been beating up on some terrible teams. They have at least five to six more losses on the schedule ahead of them. The Steelers, on the other hand, shouldn't lose more than three or four the rest of the way.

I'm sticking with my picks of Kansas City and San Diego over Denver for the last two playoff spots. The Broncos have a tough stretch of games coming up before their bye week. The Redskins could give them fits at home this week. New England won't be any better. Then, they travel across the country to play the Giants in the Meadowlands, before returning home to play the Eagles. That looks like 1-3 more than it looks like 3-1. I wouldn't read too much into the Chiefs' collapse against Philadelphia this weekend. Kansas City did a great job of taking Brian Westbrook completely out of the game. Against most teams, containing a back as good as Westbrook is more than enough to stymie an offense. Philadelphia, however, isn't most teams, and had more than enough weapons to come back despite the complete lack of a running game.

Lessons Learned from Week 4

Lesson 1 – The NFL Doesn't Think Too Highly of their Mexican Fans

Al: Why was there barbed wire surrounding the field in the Sunday night game? Was the halftime entertainment a Mick Foley vs. Terry Funk match? Maybe there was a taping of Man vs. Beast after the game and the promoters wanted to prevent the lion running the 200-yard dash from eating people in the crowd.

No, unfortunately, neither of those things were the case. Barbed wire was placed around the base of the stadium to prevent fans from running onto the field. The NFL should be ashamed of themselves. If the NFL is trying to become more international and build a new fan base, they shouldn't treat the new fans with such little respect. What kind of message do you send to 100,000+ people you are trying to cultivate as football fans when you resort to the same security measures that farmers use to keep their livestock from running away?

Yes, I know that the barbed wire is there normally to prevent fans from jumping down during soccer games. But there's no reason the NFL should have expected such fanaticism from Sunday night's game. This wasn't the U.S. vs. Mexico in a World Cup qualifier, or an América and Chivas de Guadalajara match. This was the 49ers vs. the Cardinals, the two worst teams in football. A half dozen people dropped the football on the game's first play from scrimmage. The only stampede of fans that should have been expected was towards the ticket booth for a refund.

Lesson 2 -- The Patriots Defensive Line Will Be Their Downfall

Before I get accused of an anti-New England bias, let me clarify my use of the word downfall: four to six losses instead of a major collapse. Last week Drew Brees had had enough time to take the snap, head out to Landsdowne Street, grab a bite from Kelly's Roast Beef and find his target downfield. I don't see this improving because of the injuries in the secondary to Rodney Harrison, Tyrone Poole and Randall Gay. Against the run, the defensive line has not been able to come up with defensive stops in short yardage situations. Bill Belichick will have to do something special to jump start this unit.

Scramble for the Ball Mailbag

Vivek: Send us your general football or especially your fantasy football questions each week, and we'll answer them in this very space. If you want us to help you figure out who to bench or start or who to pick up off the waiver wire each week, contact us by Tuesday so we can answer the question in this space every Wednesday. You can either email us at scramble@footballoutsiders.com, or fill out the contact form over at FootballOutsiders.com.

Russ kicks off this week with an Eliminator Pool question:

Thanks for the Cincy pick last week. Almost a scare, but I am in the final 15 now. Again, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Cincinnati are out.

Vivek: Where are the Chiefs-Browns matchups when you need them? The Colts-49ers game is the one with the biggest disparity in talent, but you took the Colts in Week 2 against the Browns. The usual surefire strategy of picking against the Browns will not work, as they host the Bears. One game that I am looking at closely is the Buccaneers-Jets game. Last week proved that the Brooks Bollinger experiment is going nowhere, the Giants' offensive line from last year decided to sneak into the Jets locker room this year. Curtis Martin has not been able to get it going all year, and the Buccaneers have shut down opposing runners. Not a good formula for success.

Al: I have to disagree, Viv. I don't like that game at all. I wouldn't place faith in the ability of Brian Griese to win a game against a decent defense on the road. This one has upset written all over it. Unfortunately, there aren't that many great matchups for home teams this week. I'd lean towards taking the Rams at home against Seattle. When in doubt, pick the home team in an NFC West matchup.

Nikki from Charlestown, Mass. needs a wide receiver upgrade and has quarterbacks as bait.

Which of my three quarterbacks would you trade to get a top receiver? Culpepper, Vick or Leftwich?

Vivek: If you move Culpepper, there is no way that you will get anywhere near equal value right now. The question is what is equal value – the Culpepper through the first quarter of the season or the Culpepper that we assumed we'd see? I would try to pawn off Vick onto someone, but his injury history is going to hurt your bargaining power. I think you could get the most for Leftwich, but other owners probably will not view him as a fantasy starter, even though his fantasy stats are on par with, if not better than, Vick's.

Jenn, another Bostonian, writes in next:

Which three RBs should I start? Clinton Portis, Carnell Williams, Warrick Dunn and Willie Parker.

Al: Parker is a definite start. He's been great, and the Chargers haven't been particularly tough against the run. I'd go with Dunn as the number two. The Chargers ran all over New England last week. Dunn should also cause some problems for the Patriots linebackers catching passes out of the backfield. If Williams is healthy, he's a definite start. If he's not close to full strength, however, you have to go with Portis. Make sure you keep up on Williams' status throughout the week, especially on Sunday morning.

Tommy S. writes in:

I'm in a flex league, may you please rank the order I should start these subsequent players: M. Pittman, C. Brown, Reggie Williams, C. Chambers, and K. Barlow. Also, should I start TE Todd Heap or L.J. Smith ? And should I drop the Jets defense this week in favor of Miami, Bears, Lions, or Titans ?

Al: Tommy, you really don't need to still have Reggie Williams on your roster. He was the worst receiver in the league last week and won't get much better. There has to be someone better available on the waiver wire. So, he'd be my last option at the flex spot. I'd put Brown first, followed by Pittman, Chambers, Barlow and Williams. Tennessee might actually have a chance against Houston, meaning Brown will be given more carries than he has seen thus far. As for Heap vs. Smith, I don't think either is a great play, but I'd go with Smith because of the overall strength of the Eagles offense. I don't think any of those four defenses are clearly better than the Jets' is this week. Tennessee is the best of the four you listed. They'll be good for at least a half dozen sacks against David Carr.

Vivek: Al is right on the money with every pick here. Brown is the full-time back after the suspension of Travis Henry, and Michael Pittman can easily step in for an injured Cadillac Williams. I have been very high on L.J. Smith for a while now. Chad Lewis's departure and the absence of a true number two receiver make him a top fantasy target.

B.A. Baracus' cousin Mr. P asks:

I'm 3 -5 and need to turn my season around. I'm in a league where I play two teams at a time on Sundays. Anyhow , here are my quandaries: 1) Which TE do I start Marcus Pollard or Ben Troupe? 2) Which two receivers do I start? Chris Chambers, Reggie Williams, Rod Smith or Joey Galloway ? and 3) Should I drop the San Diego defense this week for Miami, Detroit, Denver, or Tennessee ?

Al: 1) Troupe. Pollard won't do much against the Ravens. 2) Again with Reggie Williams. Rod Smith is an easy #1 play. Galloway has become Griese's favorite target, so he's the best bet of the other three to have a nice game, especially if David Barrett is lined up across from him. 3) Like I said before, I like the Titans defense this week.

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

Vivek: The KCW winner this week takes the cake for the best missed field goal sound byte of the year. Instead of sending the Redskins to their first defeat in 2005, Seahawks kicker Josh Brown clanged the ball off the left upright with one second left in regulation. Hometown kicker Nick Novak proceeded to nail the game-winner for Washington on the first drive in overtime. After seeing Scott Norwood, the Florida State kickers, and Ray Finkle, we all know that kickers occasionally miss. To Brown, however, this was the best kick of his entire life. "Honestly, the kick was perfect," Brown said. "I hit a great ball and unfortunately the upright got right in the way." Did he fail to see the hook on that ball?

Yes, and the Yankees were about to select me as a pitcher with their first pick in the 1996 amateur draft, but the bats of the opposing hitters kept getting in the way of my fastballs.

Al: Let's hope we don't find Brown on America's Most Wanted in a few years because he's on the run from the cops after firing a gun at Siegfried and Roy's house.

Loser League Update

Al: Since this is the first real update to the contest, we're going to start off by giving you a peek inside the minds of your fellow FO readers. First, let's take a look at who the most popular players were. Somewhat surprisingly, no single player was selected by a majority of our readers. In fact, only one player is found on over 30% of contest entries – last year's Loser League MVP Kevan Barlow. Here are the five most popular picks at each position with the percentage of readers who picked each player.

Loser League Favorites
Quarterbacks Running Backs Receivers Kickers
Kyle Orton 28.4% Kevan Barlow 48.8% Johnnie Morton 16.1% Joe Nedney 29.1%
Kyle Boller 24.6% Reuben Droughns 18.9% Marty Booker 13.6% Doug Brien 24.9%
JP Losman 24.6% Travis Henry 17.2% Ike Hilliard 11.2% Jose Cortez 19.6%
Trent Dilfer 19.3% Ronnie Brown 15.4% James Thrash 11.2% Josh Scobee 17.5%
Eli Manning 15.4% JJ Arrington 11.2% Amani Toomer 10.5% Olindo Mare 15.8%

As always, our readers have not let us down in naming their Loser League squads. We have a few Napoleon Dynamite fans with "Vote for Pedro," "I got nunchuck skills," and "Do Chickens Have Large Talons?" There are tributes to Matt Millen, Bill Belichick, Michael Vick, Ryan Leaf, Freddie Mitchell and half the backup quarterbacks in the NFC. And of course, a few names whose explanations wouldn't really be appropriate on a family-oriented site like this one.

Here's a brief recap of the first three weeks of the contest. Week 1 was a close battle, won by the aforementioned Talons. Week 2 saw two teams finish with single digits as Duke Blue in the Pros won the week with seven points. In Week 3, The Schmucks defeated the entry of yours truly, I Miss Ron Dayne, by three points, thanks to an incredible three players with negative points: Kyle Orton, Larry Johnson, and Jose Cortez.

Now, here is your All-Loser League team for Week 4

QB: Tim Rattay, SF -- 0 points (21 passes, 126 yards; 2 fumbles, 1 INT)
RB: Carnell Williams, TB -- 1 point (11 carries, 13 yards; 2 catches, 6 yards)
RB: Fred Taylor, JAC -- 2 points(8 carries, 14 yards; 1 carries, 13 yards)
WR: Eric Moulds, BUF -- 1 point (2 catches, 14 yards)
WR: Michael Clayton, TB -- 1 point (2 catches, 11 yards)
K: Rian Lindell, BUF -- -1 points (0/1 FG; 1/1 XP)

The Clowns out of Dayton, Ohio were our low scorers in Week 4 with a quality 18 point showing. The Clowns had solid performances across the board, with no scored player earning more than 4 points. After four weeks, Christ Punchers holds a slight overall lead over Ice Cold Bruschi, and Vote for Pedro.

Best Bets

Al (3-0 last week, 8-4 overall):

That's more like it.

CLEVELAND -3.0 over Chicago

The Browns defense stifled Peyton Manning and the Colts in Week 3. They sacked Brett Favre six times and picked off two of his passes in Week 2 at Lambeau Field. They shouldn't have any problem shutting down Kyle Orton at home this week.

N.Y. JETS +3.5 over Tampa

I'm going to go on the record and predict an upset here. Sure, the only real highlights of the Jets season have been watching opposing punt returners enter the no spin zone when they try to field former Australian rules football star Ben Graham's punts. But I don't like this matchup for the Bucs. With Williams banged up, Tampa will be relying a lot on Michael Pittman catching passes out of the backfield. That plays right into the strength of the Jets' defense - their linebackers. The Jets will struggle to move the ball against the Tampa defense but should do better once Vinny Testeverde replaces Brooks Bollinger.

ST. LOUIS -3.0 over Seattle

The Rams haven't lost to the Seahawks at home since Lawrence Phillips was their leading rusher. There's little reason to think either defense can stop the other team's offense, but the Rams should come out victorious.

Baltimore +1.5 over DETROIT

Joey Harrington against the Ravens' defense?

GREEN BAY -3.0 over New Orleans

Yes, I'm picking against New Orleans again. The Packers have to win at least one game this year, and there's no better time than at home against the Saints. Favre almost pulled off the comeback on the road against Carolina last week and should have no problem throwing on New Orleans.

Vivek (1-3 last week, 5-8 overall):

That's more like it.

I had too much faith in Cincinnati continuing its dominance and Minnesota building on its Week 3 win. This week I'm going with the Road Warriors.

Cincinnati +2.5 over JACKSONVILLE

This Jacksonville team has two wins over the Jets and Seahawks that failed to impress me ... Expect the Bengals to run Rudi Johnson 27-30 times during the game against one of the worst run defenses in the league ... Chad Johnson just checked the box next to my name on his list of people that are on his bandwagon.

Washington +7.0 over DENVER

Take the Skins with the points, but not straight up.

Indianapolis -14.0 over SAN FRANCISCO

I still flinch when I see Eli with a higher quarterback rating than his big brother. Expect that to change this week.

Philadelphia -3.5 over DALLAS

Philadelphia is coming off a tremendous comeback win at Arrowhead, while Dallas is still having nightmares about Santana Moss. Dallas is also 0-4 against the spread this year.

Posted by: scramble on 05 Oct 2005

71 comments, Last at 10 Sep 2010, 3:04am by uggs outlet


by A High (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 8:08pm

Christ Punchers? This may be a first, I am genuinly upset with myself for finding that funny.

by IzzionSona (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 8:20pm

I think we just got a peek at the Loser League teams, not a peak... ;)

Is there any way with which we could get a "enter your email, find your loser league team" feature? My miniscule brain has forgotten what I named mine, and none of the names in the list are popping out at me...

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 8:37pm

My miniscule brain has forgotten what I named mine, and none of the names in the list are popping out at me…

You could click on any that seem kind of familiar, and it will tell you what town the team owner is from, assuming you said what town you were from when you chose your team.

I had the same problem, but I think I've figured mine out. Unfortunately, the one I think is mine is terrible, as I chose too early, choosing a bunch of people who aren't even playing.



by Whatever0 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 8:37pm

Or some way to find your team, if you know it's location. It's been too long, I can't remember my catchy name either.

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 8:39pm

Oh, and the best team name, in my opinion, is Steaming Pile of Krenzel.

by Craig (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 9:10pm

I couldn't remember my team name either, so I used their contact form selecting Loser League Issues from the drop-box and I got my team name. I don't know if this is the way they want you to deal with it, but it worked Monday.

by ABW (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 9:19pm

Shouldn't it be Kevan Barlow, Loser League LVP?

Seriously, though, do I start Darrell Jackson this week? He's kinda hurt, and I could put TJ Housh in for him, so it's not like there's a huge dropoff.

by Catfish (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 9:51pm

Re: 5

Thanks, that one's mine. I actually prefer "My Entire Team is Made of Meat"

by Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 9:57pm

I like "Meats of Evil." Meat is always funny. Nothing tops "Christ Punchers," though.

With the benching of Tim Rattay, I will get 60 points in penalties. This is farking ridiculous.

by Theo (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 10:10pm

Lesson 2: The Patriots lost both of their middle linebackers (and their strong safety.)
Everybody tends to forget that, but that is big.

by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 11:04pm

But, Theo, we know winning is all about schemes and not players. We've praised Bellichick ad nauseum these past years, especially last year, about his ability to plug just anyone in and win.

He's the McGuyver of coaches -- he SHOULD be able to create an impenetrable wall out of some athletic tape and a couple of mouthguards.

by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 11:06pm

#9: With the benching of Tim Rattay, I will get 60 points in penalties. This is farking ridiculous.

Hey, it's better than having Eli.

by calig23 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 11:26pm

Going with the Darrell Jackson question in #7....

I can start three WR. I've got Jackson, Joe Horn, Santana Moss, Michael Clayton, and Kevin Curtis. I may or may not be able to work out a trade for Donald Driver- but that's probably the best trade I'll be able to manage, and I have my doubts about being able to work it out anyways.

Do I go with Moss, Clayton, and Curtis? Do I gamble on Jackson and/or Horn in the hopes that they, A)will play, and B)will be productive? Or do I look for somebody on the waiver wire that might be a worthwhile pickup? And if so, what are some names I should consider.

by Polish Wonder (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 11:37pm

I remember the name of my team, but can't remember my players. Is there a way to find out who's on a team

by luz (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 12:17am

i was touched by his noodley appendage!

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 1:06am

Man, why on earth are you guys so down on Denver? I just don't understand it. First you say that you don't like them because of their "brutal" schedule before the bye- nevermind the fact that every other team in the entire AFC West will be playing all 4 of those teams at some point during the season. Then you advise pretty much everything BUT Denver in an eliminator pool. You realize that Vegas likes Denver so much that they're favored by TWICE as much as any other team except Indy, right? Those Vegas guys tend to know what they're talking about, too.

Denver's next 4 games are going to prove easier than their last 4 games, when all is said and done. And there's no way they go 1-3 over their next 4. And they're my eliminator pick of the week.

Fun fact: Experts tend to be down on Denver, but Vegas absolutely loves them. Last weekend was just the second time since the beginning of the 2004 season that Denver was an underdog.

by Joey (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 1:46am

"I envisioned a defense similar to one that the Ravens had during their Super Bowl season.
Well, at least no one can accuse you of being unrealistic. It was only one of the greatest defenses of all time, after all.

"I wouldn’t read too much into the Chiefs’ collapse against Philadelphia this weekend."
Mind if I read something into their complete no-show in their game against Denver the week before?

by Tony Christ Puncher (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 1:47am

My Christ Punchers are ROLLIN baby.

And "Christ Punchers" is based on a Simpsons quote from Moe on what to name him and Homer's Bike Gang...and off a friends Fantasy Football team from several years back.

I'm sure at some point I'll be struck by a lightning bolt for a 5 TD game from J.P. Losman.

by Troy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 2:07am

I'm a little stunned at how anyone could still pick the Chiefs. They collapsed against Philly and were stimply outclassed by Denver in every way. If it weren't for a horrific call on Moss in the end zone, they'd be looking 1-3 in the face.

Denver simply crushed the team you think will win this division and they aren't even on your wild card list? I don't get it guys. And 1-3 over their next four? you REALLY expect them to lose 2 of 3 home games? I don't.

I think KC ends up being the fourth best team in the division by the time it's all said and done and I think the final game of Denver at San Diego will likely decide the division, but expect both to make the playoffs. We'll see.

by J-Diddy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 2:25am

It's nice to see my team (Do the chickens have Large Talons) won week one, only to go back to the middle of the pack. Darn penalties!

BTW, my girlfriend says I have an unhealthy obsession with Napoleon Dynamite. (I just tell her that her mom goes to college)

Anyway... this message actually did have a point. KNOCKOUT LEAGUE! I'm actually cheating, I had to join another after being knocked out of my first by SF week 1.

But I don't understand why nobody is recommending the game I took this week... Carolina over Arizona. Just seems like a no brainer to me. Especcially once some of the air deflates from the win in Mexico City last week.

Peace out!

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 3:47am

Tony Christ Puncher:

Holcombe is sarting this week. How's 15 pts/week lookin' to ya?

By the way, a 5 TD game would be no worse than a 3 TD game, since I would wager that your other QB will do worse than either line.

by the K (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 9:39am

Fun fact: Experts tend to be down on Denver, but Vegas absolutely loves them. Last weekend was just the second time since the beginning of the 2004 season that Denver was an underdog.

Interesting, Kibbles. Regular season only or was one of those two times the playoff game vs. Indy?

by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 9:39am

NFL Network had the head of officiating on Total Access claiming Pollard didn't have control when he went out of bounds. Mind you, he had the ball in both hands and never juggled it, then tucked it as he slid out of bounds. How is that not control?

by pawnking (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 9:59am

Is anyone here worried about the Eagles? It seems to me that 1) they cannot run, and 2) are in real danger of not being able to stop the run due to atrition. They are a Trotter hammy away from going 9-7. Does this concern anyone else?

by ElJefe (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 11:11am

Re 24:

Don't be fooled by the unfrozen caveman football analysts. On offense the Eagles ypc (3.8) is middle of the pack in the NFC, so the problem is more that they won't run rather than they can't run. (The only team with less carries/game is the 49ers.) Now, as far as Success Rate ... there's something to the claim of not being able to run. But I don't worry about teams that throw for 350 ypg and score 4 TDs a game. We'll see how the Eagles approach games against more competent defenses than those they have played so far. (Against Oak, SF, and KC, the right move was to throw early and often to exploit their secondaries.)

On defense the Eagles try to stop the run the same way the Cowboys of the mid-90's (and the 49ers of earlier years) did it. Sure, you can have some success playing ball-control and field position against the D, but while you're grinding out 2-3 first downs on the ground and setting up good field position for your defense, the other guys are scoring touchdowns. You can stop the other team's running game with your offense.

I think for the Eagles to go 9-7 requires two of (McNabb, Owens, Westbrook) to miss significant time. The Eagles may not have a power running game or a couple of fat tubs of goo to consistently create manly piles at the line of scrimmage on every down, but they sure do seem to be pretty good at scoring points on offense and not allowing points on defense. And I seem to recall that's the actual object of the game. :)

by Xao (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 11:55am

I've been offered Terrell Owens and Daunte Culpepper for Matt Hasselbeck and Brian Westbrook. Obviously, I'm reluctant to trade two starting caliber players for a receiver, but both quarterback and running back are relatively strong positions for me, while my receivers are, to be polite, subpar.

I'm starting Peyton Manning at QB, and except his bye week (which he shares with Hasselbeck), that's not likely to change. In addition to Westbrook I've got Domanick Davis, Kevin Jones, Ronnie Brown, and Willie Parker available to fill three spots. In contrast, my receiving corps consists of Rod Smith, Hines Ward, Brandon Lloyd, Kevin Curtis, Ashlie Lelie, and Travis Taylor, of which I need to start three.

I've counteroffered Hasselbeck and Parker, but if he turns it down, should I accept the initial offer?

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 12:49pm

"What kind of message do you send to 100,000+ people you are trying to cultivate as football fans when you resort to the same security measures that farmers use to keep their livestock from running away?"

True. This should only be used against Philadelphia fans.

by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 12:56pm

I have to admit, if I was in an eliminator league, picking Carolina this week would look really tempting. If they weren't available, picking the Seahawks to lose in St. Louis is a no-brainer, and it's not like you're going to kick yourself for wasting the 2005 Rams early in the season.

For Loser League... I'm getting penalties because of my QB logic - that Orton couldn't possibly stay healthy as a starter (like every other Bears QB of late), that Boller would be in there the whole time, and that Ramsey would certainly be on the field. Oh well, there's always the second half league to look forward to.

Oh, and my personal vote for best Loser League name would be Fumbalaya, followed closely by Killer Dinette Sets.

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 12:56pm

Weeeee! 15th place out of 276 entries! It's going to be a lot harder to win this year with all the opposition.

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 1:02pm

I should probably mention that the Dyslexic Tacs appear twice in the Week 4 standings, linked below. Note #21 and #22.

Also, I like the Rams (-3), the Bears (+3), the Ravens (+1), and the Eagles (-3.5). If you want two more, here are two that I'm not as sure about: the Bengals (+3) and the Packers (-3).

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 1:12pm

RE: 14

Check the weekly standings. The teams are linked, and you see the players and their point total for the week.
Clarett's Folly is being hurt by Darius Watts, and now JP Losman is benched. Those penalties will also hurt. Finally. I have had several 7-carry and 1-reception games so far. It's as if the coaches are trying to hurt my team. :(

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 1:38pm

Sid: In week 1, Marty Booker had 1 catch for 70+ yards and a TD, giving me 28 points on the day. STill, nothing is as bad as the game last year when Bettis had 3 carries, all for TDs (33 points)

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 3:52pm

here's a silly question: I'm in a WR heavy point per reception league that starts 2 WRs, 2 WR/RBs, and one RB. I'm very set at WR with S. Smith, M. Harrison and R. Moss as starters, Stallworth as a usual flex play. My RB situation is... less good. I have Dunn at stater and W. Parker at flex (when not occupied by Stallworth). and (ugh) Marshall Faulk on the bench. I'm concerned about Parker's long-term value, so i'd love to unload him. Here's the trade i'd like to propose: Parker + Stallworth for Duckett (handcuff + vulture) + Terry Glenn. Parker and Stallworth have very high value right now, and in our scoring system, the combos are even pointswise. Am i nuts to try run a Ducket/Dunn combo? Or will Parker actually remain valuable?

by TMK (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 4:08pm

The Baltimore Colt Marching Band is too bad to lose -- Ramsey & Hilliard alone are a sure 15 points every week. And what the heck is Kyle Orton doing actually having a GOOD game against Detroit?

In another dimension, I have Jamal Lewis, Chris Brown and Thomas Jones, and I have to play two of them. I'm leaning towards Jones against the Browns anyway, but I don't have a feel at all for Detroit (so I'm as well off as Matt Millen). Any ideas?

by Pin Pal (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 4:18pm

Now I know for sure that EVERYONE puts the Sunday Night Bobbleheads on mute. According to them, the barbed wire is standard issue at that stadium. It's there to discourage soccer fans from rushing the field. It was not installed special for the NFL game.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 5:12pm

Sure, you can have some success playing ball-control and field position against the D, but while you’re grinding out 2-3 first downs on the ground and setting up good field position for your defense, the other guys are scoring touchdowns. You can stop the other team’s running game with your offense.

Actually, it's even harder than that. Normally the Eagles have good enough special teams that you can't really gain field position on them at all. You start off in bad field position because of long kickoffs, and good punting and punt coverage keeps you there.

OK, so the kicking bit has declined, but the punting is actually the only positive thing about the Eagles special team this year.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 5:51pm

Re #22: That was regular season only. If you include the playoff game against Indy, that bumps the total number of times Denver has been an underdog since the opening of the 2004 season to 3.

For those interested, the games were AT SD last year, AT Indy in the playoffs, and AT Jacksonville last weekend. I agreed with the underdog status of the first two, but to be honest, I thought the underdog status at Jacksonville was a little bit iffy. To be sure, everyone was betting against them because of the "short week" factor, but Denver was 9-1 in their last 10 games following MNF. And now they're 10-1. As bad as they are on national TV (their MNF and SNF winning percentages are WELL below their normal winning percentages, and include such gems as the games against Oakland and Cincy last year), they're stellar the week following. Absolutely stellar.

by Björn (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2005 - 7:08pm

QB-Kyle Boller-15
QB-Trent Dilfer-15
RB-Cedric Benson-15
RB-Rueben Droughns-15
RB-Ronnie Brown-15
WR-Jerry Rice-15
WR-Donte' Stallworth-12
WR-James Thrash-3
K-Doug Brien-15
K-Olindo Mare-15

Next half I will be more careful about the bye weeks. Cleveland, Miami and Chicago. Oops. Add an injury and a retirement, and my loser league team is better than my real fantasy teams.

by Mike M (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 9:52am

Bye week woes: Priest and Plax on the bench this week. This leaves me starting Thomas Jones and 3 WR's because my other backs are Larry Johnson and JJ Arrington. Ouch. Start three: Roy Williams v. BAL, Lloyd v. IND, Glenn v. PHI, C.Johnson @ JAX. Right now I'm leaning towards Chad, Williams, and Lloyd. Any reason to start Terry Glenn over Williams? Conventional wisdom says don't start Williams against Baltimore's D, but DVOA says that Baltimore's pass D ranks #26. He may also get more looks with Rogers taking his little vacation.

by iyyi (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 10:21am

Moss on bye -- start Muhammad at Cle, or Ferguson at home against NO?

by ChrisS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 12:23pm

For the KCW award you gotta mention Jake Peavey, even though he is baseball player. He broke his rib in San Diego's postgame celebration for winning the NL West and is out for the playoffs. On the brighter side that will probably only be 3 games.

by Al (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 2:04pm

Denver: You're right, I am a bit to harsh on Denver. Maybe it's because I'm not a Jake Plummer fan. The team made the playoffs in spite of him last year. He arguably cost the Broncos four wins.

KC Defense: Collapsing against Philly is a bit much. They were able to shut down Westbrook, something no one else has done this year. Doing that, though, stopped them from being able to defend against the rest of the Eagles' receivers.

39: Tough call between Williams and Glenn. There's no good play there. I'd probably start Glenn, though. I have no confidence that Joey Harrington will be able to do much throwing the ball against the Ravens, even if their pass defense has a low DVOA this early in the year. It's more because I'm down on Detroit's passing game than being high on Glenn.

40: definitely Muhammad. #1 Wide receivers have had solid fantasy days so far against the Browns. I good #1 WR is almost always a better fantasy start than a so-so #2 WR, even if that #2 WR has a good matchup.

by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 3:45pm

RE: 41

He assumed the Astros would win the wild card, leading to a matchup against the Cards. He then hurt himself on purpose.
Injury is reminiscent of Bill Gramatica, although Gramatica did it after making a meaningless FG for Arizona.

by Björn (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 4:29pm

The KCW award should go to Minnesota Wild goalie who injured his neck in what the team referred to as a towelling off incident.

And RE: #42, KC's containment of Westbrook won't look so impressive after Denver's better defence does a better job of it.

by The Cartoonist (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 7:20pm

Hey guys, would you start L.J. Smith or McMichael this week? And what do you think is fair value to ask in trade for Ricky Williams at this point? (I own Ronnie Brown)

by Al (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 8:37pm

Engram and Jackson are officially out for Seattle this weekend. Make the appropriate lineup adjustments.

McMichael v. LJ: I'd go with McMichael. TEs haven't done much against Dallas this year, although they haven't played one as good as Smith yet. With Spikes out, McMichael should be able to handle whatever linebackers are lined up against him.

by Terry (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 1:02pm

Emergency W/RB starter-

Jerald Sowell / Chris Henry / D.J. Hackett / Shaun McDonald ?

by Old James (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 1:12pm

Good problem this week: Chicago D v. Cleveland, or Miami D v. Buffalo?

by Xao (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 6:55pm

So, I resolved my Owens dilemma. I wound up swapping Brandon Lloyd and Hasselbeck for Vick and Owens. This still leaves me with too many running backs on my roster, leading to my current question: should I start Ronnie Brown at Buffalo or Domanick Davis at home against Tennessee? Right now I'm leaning towards Brown, but I do hate to give up on Davis in favor of two later round picks and a waiver wire claim.

Re: 48, I'd go with Miami. So far, Buffalo's been relying on the rush to move the ball, which plays into Miami's strength (-50% Rushing DVOA). Will Holcomb really be able to reverse that trend? Both defenses appear to badly outclass their opponents, but I'd say that Clevland is much more likely to put points on the board via a big play here or there than Buffalo is.

by Adam (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:29am

Third WR this week, to line up along side Owens and HWard:

DBennett @ Hou
SMcDonald v Sea
RSmith v Was

I rank them in about that order. Thoughts?

by Xao (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:52am


I actually kind of like Smith against Washington. So far, teams have been able to throw on the 'Skins, but they've been stout against the run. I don't like McDonald as well, simply because he hasn't been a priority target in the offense, from what I've seen, while you know that Plummer will be looking for Smith.

by Al (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 9:36am

47: McDonald. Bruce is still out so he should get time on the field. Bulger's going to go nuts against Seattle at home.

48: Miami. Holcombe's more likely to turn the ball over than Dilfer.

49: I'd go with Davis instead of the rookie on the road.

50: Bennett's listed as questionable, so buyer beware. Smith is always a safe play.

Vick downgraded to questionable. Mora says there's a 50/50 chance he'll play. Keep an eye on pre-game shows this morning and adjust your rosters accordingly

by Dan Babbitt (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 10:38am

It sounds as if Joe Horn is out today.

Does anyone like Stallworth @ GB?

My other options are Curtis, Santana, Roy Williams and Mason.

Is David Martin TE-GB a good play today?

Denver D or Miami D?

Both Buff and Wash have turned the ball over a lot.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 11:38am

Vick is out for Atlanta.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 11:39am

RE: 53
Yes, Horn and Ahman Green are out in that game.

by Al (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 11:56am

Sid - where did you see that Vick was declared out?

by Al (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:01pm

53 - Go with Curtis. St. Louis should drop 30+ points against the Seahawks. Both Miami and Redskins D are good plays. I'm lower on Denver than other people are, so I'd play the Redskins, but most folks would probably tell you to play Miami.

by Dan (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:23pm

Thanks Al & Sid.

From Boston.com:

"Defensive lineman Richard Seymour (knee) headlines a list of five Patriots players who were downgraded to "out" for Sunday's game against the Falcons.

The others are linebacker Matt Chatham and cornerbacks Randall Gay, Tyrone Poole and Chad Scott.

With offensive tackle Matt Light and running back Kevin Faulk already having been declared out earlier this week, the Patriots' seven inactive players are finalized."

by Al (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:26pm

Sal P says Vick won't start b/c he was uncomforable w/playing w/a knee brace. Schaub #1, Detmer #2, Vick might not even suit up.

by Dan (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:31pm

ESPN.com's Sal Paolantonio reports Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick (knee) will not start the team's Week 5 game. Backup QB Matt Schaub will get the start in his place.

by Al (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:44pm

Ugh. I'm left with some awful options at QB in one league. I don't have a viable backup to Vick in one league. Here's who I could start from the waiver wire: Testaverde, Schaub, Holcomb, Wright, Orton. I'm going with Schaub, but could be convinced otherwise.

by Al (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:51pm

Cadillac inactive according to Jaws on ESPN.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 1:49pm

RE: 56

I get the news early here. ;)

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 1:51pm

RE: 61
Ugh. Tough choice there. None of them will throw the ball much, and if they do, they won't have much success. I guess I'd go Holcomb, although I could see Schaub also.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 2:01pm

Braylon Edwards is out, if anyone cares. Staph infection in elbow.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 2:06pm

Jamal Lewis (detroit) or Brian Westbrook (Dallas)?

by Dan (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 2:14pm

re: #66

Westbrook. Don't they usually kill Dallas? Baltimore is w/o their fullback again today.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 3:40pm

A little bit late, but thanks. I found that issue right before the games started. I decided to leave Westbrook in the starting lineup, because Lewis has not yet proven he's a legit fantasy option.

by Tyler (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 4:49pm

I doubt I'll get a response being as it's so late, but I figure i'll take a shot. Who should I go with at TE this week, LJ Smith vs Dallas or Dallas Clark vs SF? LJ has been clutch for me pretty much all year, but I can't help to think that Peyton will eat SF alive, and Clark has to be good for atleast one of those TD's, right? LJ is going to be my starter unless somebody tells me I should give in and go with Dallas.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 11:20pm

RE: 67

Oh well. Westbrook did nothing. I should have started Jamal. :( He had almost 100 rushing and a receiving TD.

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