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22 Nov 2006

Scramble for the Ball: Block the Standing Still

by Bill Barnwell and Ian Dembsky

Bill: For the second week in a row, I want to start by talking about something I brought up in Audibles. In Sunday night's Broncos-Chargers game, Broncos center Tom Nalen dove at Chargers defensive lineman Igor Olshansky's knees on a spike-the-ball play; Olshansky responded by throwing a combination to Nalen whilst Nalen lay at the Ukrainian's feet. Olshansky was given an Unnecessary Roughness penalty for 15 yards and ejected from the game on a Broncos drive where they were attempting to tie the Chargers in the final minute. He was escorted from the field by Marty Schottenheimer, who emptied the contents of his gall bladder onto Olshansky with the utmost haste. For those of you who haven't seen the clip, YouTube still has it up at the time of writing here; if it goes down, I'll try and find an alternate clip.

For those of you who also might be unaware, there's history on both sides here. Olshansky's recently returned from knee troubles, while Nalen and the Broncos offensive line are famed for delivering cut blocks -- blocks below the opponent's waist and most often at the opponent's knees -- while opponents aren't looking, allowing Broncos running backs cutback lanes. Occasionally, this has the not-particularly-desirable side effect of injuring opposing defensive linemen who are in vulnerable positions.

Now, before you start writing to us, Broncos fans, I know that the cut block is a legal move. I'll get back to Nalen's block on Sunday night in a minute. The cut block as employed by the Broncos is one of those issues that skirts upon the "unwritten code" of NFL players, which in and of itself is a little ridiculous, but exists for a reason -- if players took every opportunity they had to injure each other, it's pretty obvious that the NFL wouldn't be the same league.

The most blatant recent example of breaking "the code" was probably in 2002, when then-Buccaneer Warren Sapp leveled Chad Clifton of the Packers on an interception return where Clifton and Sapp were both 20-30 yards away from the play. The hit, much like the Broncos' cut blocks, was legal -- but was it ethical? The gray area between legality and ethics is the one that the unwritten rules of football occupy -- and it raises more questions. Are there any ethics in football? How do they get created? At what point do they cease to be relevant? On fourth down? In the playoffs? Do they get established over time as players become more and more recognizant of them?

I'll use a soccer example to illuminate the last question. Over the last 25 years, it has become expected practice when a player is injured on the field to knock the ball out of bounds to allow the player to receive treatment, even if the injured player is on the opposing team. When the ball is thrown back in by the opposing team, who has gained possession of the ball by virtue of the other team's touching it last before going out of bounds, this team is expected to kick the ball back to the other team without any pressure, allowing them to regain the ball without punishment. While not an official rule, such behavior is expected -- fans will boo vociferously if players don't follow this unwritten law. Furthermore, when a player scored a decisive goal in a 1999 match where he unwittingly did not follow the rule, his manager offered the opposition the chance to replay the match ten days later, an offer that was taken up.

It's hard for me to define what is ethical and unethical on a football field without having been a player at any significant level; this is the sort of thing that pundits with actual NFL experience are useful for talking about, as opposed to stumbling through names in 30-second highlight packages for $2 million a year, but I'm stuck here talking about it.

Back to the Nalen block, though. What makes it particularly unethical and repulsive is the fact that Nalen knew exactly what he was doing. Nalen cannot claim that he didn't know it was going to be a spike play; he's the center, for chrissakes. What makes it absolutely unjustifiable is that the play was over, and Nalen knew it. If you watch the video, Nalen does not move out of his crouch and lunge at Olshansky's knees until after the ball has touched the ground for the spike. Was Nalen looking at the ball? No. Do I think he noticed when an object he's snapped tens of thousands of times bounced behind him, the way it does at the end of countless spike plays? Probably, yeah.

What's also maddening about it is John Madden's justification of it. Madden says, and I quote, "I think what [Olshansky] was upset about, he thought Nalen went for his knees, which he did, but that's ok! I mean, you know, when the center goes to block you like that, you can't punch them." To Madden, this is the same exact thing as Nalen blocking Olshansky in the middle of a play in the second quarter, which is a wonderful example of Madden's senility or the tininess of the monitors he was working off of.

Madden and Michaels' utter incomprehension of the incident wasn't particularly surprising. I think back to Joe Buck's self-righteous orgasm of indignance upon Randy Moss' faux-mooning of the crowd at Lambeau: "That's a disgusting act by Randy Moss, and it's unfortunate we had it on our air live." Of course, not only was Moss' act a not-remotely-serious response to Packers fans mooning the opposing team's bus, but he didn't actually pull his pants down. And yet, Buck's indignation was wasted upon a meaningless, not-actually-insulting-to-anyone joke, while Nalen's farcical display of professionalism was left unspoken about. This was the most disgusting thing I've seen watching football in a while, and it was one of those plays that defined for me who Tom Nalen and the Broncos offensive line are in a permanent way.

And then, when you look for football clips on YouTube, you find that someone's posted four clips of himself playing an entire target="_blank">Madden 94 game of the Cowboys at the Broncos, and it's impossible to hate football or the Broncos or life, really. I could write a whole running diary on him playing that game. Does everyone always control a defensive end in Madden? Why does the quarterback's cadence sound like it was recorded by a 15-year-old boy with allergies, and why does he also say the "It's good!" after each extra point? Did EA really use the same whistle sound effects for all their sports games? I should really stop now.

Ian: Ah, the memories of old school Madden games. I was so inspired by those movies, I dusted off my copy of the original Madden football for the SNES from back in 1991 and fired it up on my 50" TV. Nothing beats blowing up primitive graphics on the big screen. Of course, as a Tampa Bay fan, it's especially difficult to support my team on those older games, when the Buccaneers were truly terrible. I couldn't even beat the Phoenix Cardinals; apparently it was Ricky Proehl hauling in all those bombs.

Enough about Madden football though. It's time to talk about another announcer, and to give credit where credit is due.

"I've never watched a football game where while the ball is in the air, it's like watching a Michael Jordan jumpshot. You're not sure if it's going to go in, and with regard to the Jacksonville Jaguar wide receivers, you're just not 100 percent sure they're gonna catch it." -- Joe Theismann

This has to be the most random, meaningless analogy of all-time. Why a Michael Jordan jumpshot? I suppose in that regard, it's also like watching Pedro Martinez pitch -- you don't know if he's going to pitch a strike. Or waiting for the next commercial to have Peyton Manning in it -- it just might. Well said, Joe, well said. Now get back to kissing up to Tony.

Time for a crazy revelation. The San Francisco 49ers are only one game behind Seattle for first place in the NFC West. What's going on there? It's clear that their young defense is getting better in a hurry. Frank Gore has been running possessed, leading the league in rushes of 20+ yards. Alex Smith has matured quickly. He's not lighting it up, but he's generally not turning the ball over, either, smartly relying on his improved defense and the running game.

Are they for real? Can they keep it up and possibly win the division? In the NFC, almost anyone is a playoff contender, and I expect the 49ers to be competitive when it comes to the Wild Card. I don't see them catching Seattle though, despite beating them this past weekend. They capitalized on mistakes by Seneca Wallace that you're not likely to see Matt Hasselbeck make. As Shaun Alexander gets more game time he'll get better, as will the entire Seattle offense. You have to admire San Francisco though. Bill and I both picked the Under when it came to the preseason over/under line of five wins, and they've already matched that with six to go.

Speaking of over/unders ... Hey Bill, have you placed an order for my Ed Reed jersey yet? For those who've been reading for awhile, you'll recall that I was so confident in the Ravens hitting the Over on eight wins, I wagered a football jersey on it with Bill. Technically I haven't won yet, but I have a strong feeling that they'll win one of their last six games. McNair hasn't been lighting it up offensively, but he's been just what the team needed -- a veteran presence with a swagger that's affecting the offense as a whole. Mark Clayton has gained confidence to where he's stepped up as a legitimate #1 receiver. Jamal Lewis has risen from the ashes to running powerfully the way he used to. Todd "Questionable" Heap has helped to consistently move the chains. Cincinnati is having quite an offensive resurgence, but don't expect them to overcome a three-game divisional deficit and catch the Ravens before the season is out.

Bill: If by a Veteran Presence you mean a presence that sucks, then you're right. Baltimore's offense is 23rd in the league in DVOA; 14th whilst passing, 25th running. Jamal Lewis' good game last week was notable, not regular. Now, don't get me wrong -- you'll win the bet and I'll hate myself regardless -- but I was right in my methodology behind betting against you here. This offense isn't any good, McNair or not; I just didn't realize how good the Ravens defense was going to be.

Ian: Before we get to the picks later, I wanted to comment on how much I completely suck at them this season. I don't get it. I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what's going on on the football field. I typically see things before the announcers say them, and of my four fantasy football teams this season, all four of them are in first place. When it comes to predicting outcomes, though, I might as well give up. I'm in a picks pool with a season-long contest for total games correct, and of the 160 games played so far, I've gotten a whopping 68 of them right. 68! That's 42.5%. I think I'm eligible for the loser's prize in Keno. Why am I telling you this? If I'm going to brag about being right about the Ravens, I have to admit my shortcomings as well. And I continue to recommend that you pick whatever Bill predicts, and whatever I don't. When I picked the Packers, and he made the Patriots his Catholic Match Girl Staredown Lock of the Week, I might as well have let loose some black cats on Lambeau Field.

Bill: And Brett Favre would've overthrown them, too.

Jason Beattie is off this week, so please enjoy this somewhat timely cartoon re-run!

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

I'd love to give this award to Eli Manning, but we've harped on him enough already. Demarcus Faggins and his "coverage" of Lee Evans was also worth consideration. Also, Aaron Brooks's terrible interception as the Raiders were driving for a game-winning drive would've earned the award, except what else did we expect from Aaron Brooks?

No, this week's Keep Choppin' Wood Award winner is none other than Seneca Wallace of the Seattle Seahawks. In a game that could've given his team a decisive division lead, putting less pressure on the return of their injured superstars, he threw three poorly-thrown, costly interceptions. Worst of all was when Frank Gore fumbled away the football while the 49ers were essentially running out the clock: It took Seneca two plays to give the ball right back, killing a huge momentum swing and any realistic chance to win the game. Congratulations Seneca, you're this week's Keep Choppin' Wood Award winner!

Loser Leaguers of the Week

QB: Exit stage right, Mr. McNabb. While he couldn't have been selected by many a Loser League team, McNabb's last game of the season mustered a lonely single digit; Jeff Garcia, if there was Loser League Free Agency, would be the hot acquisition of the week right about now. Runners-up include the miscalibrated JUGS machine that was Brett Favre, who looked like an Eli Manning cover band on Sunday, and Marc Bulger, who looked like a Charlie Frye cover band.

RB: Pretty obvious who the Losingest Loser Leaguer of the Week is this week. Welcome, Ronnie Brown; your -2 yards on 12 carries would be enough, but the fact that you were able to fumble one of those carries is a noble offering to the Loser League gods. A -2 from a running back is a beautiful thing, especially a legitimately excellent one like Brown. Ahman Green and Leon Washington could only muster up 2 points each in response, fantastic output by comparison.

WR: TJ Houshmandzadeh was the most prominent amongst a number of players who garnered 1 point this week; on the other hand, DJ Hackett is a Football Outsiders favorite, and Dante Hall actually had a Gatorade commercial based around him in another lifetime. "Space" is a many-splendored thing. The winner at wide receiver, though, was Patrick Crayton, whose zero left him in the same galaxy of suck that Patrick Watkins resides in.

K: If your team isn't going to score any touchdowns, you're really behooven to kick a field goal when you get the opportunity. Dave Rayner wasn't concerned with such frivolities, and his sole missed attempt tied him with Brown for-2 points on the week, low score for all. John Carney and Mike Vanderjagt, the latter of whom is strangely still employed, also had negative numbers on the week.

Best Bets

Bill: (2-1 last week, 22-10-1 overall)

Ian should have known not to mess with my dear lady. Of course, saying I was taking the points with Andrew Walter when I meant to say giving them jinxed Kansas City and cost me a perfect week.

New York Giants (-3) over TENNESSEE

I know, I know, the big news of the week is that Dallas is going to run the table and win the NFC East, the Super Bowl, and Bill Parcells is going to bathe in a peanut butter shower and life will be fantastic. Color me slightly skeptical. The difference between these teams is about 42% worth of DVOA. This line is preposterously low. Yes, the Giants are banged up. They're not this banged up. She (3-1) believes.

BALTIMORE (-3) over Pittsburgh

Ben Roethlisberger on the road. It's gotten to that point now.

Jacksonville (-3) over BUFFALO

David Garrard just wins, baby. J.P. Losman just ... does whatever J.P. Losman does.

Below-Replacement-Level Bets

Ian: (0-3 last week, 11-18-3 overall)

DALLAS (-11.0) over Tampa Bay

Of course, as soon as I announced that I want Tampa Bay to start losing in an effort to get better draft choices, they go and beat Washington. Not that I couldn't see that coming with Jason Campbell's first start coming on the road. It ends here though. Dallas' defense has been playing exceptionally well lately. Their offense has been excellent, balancing talent all over the field. Thanksgiving Day, the home field, tied for first in their division -- expect the Cowboys to win and win big.

ST. LOUIS (-6.0) over San Francisco

If there's one thing we've learned about bandwagons, it's that when they come out of nowhere, they're often short-lived. The 49ers are playing great lately, while the Rams are not. Torry Holt hasn't scored since his three-touchdown outburst back in Week 6. Look for him to break out of his funk in a big way, and for the Rams to get going in a big win at home.

Philadephia (+9.0) over INDIANAPOLIS

The Colts have only won by more than nine points twice this season. While Donovan McNabb may be out, the Colts defense is still pretty terrible, and the Eagles defense has the kind of secondary that can keep Peyton Manning in check. Look for a Colts win, but not a big one.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell and Ian Dembsky on 22 Nov 2006

82 comments, Last at 28 Nov 2006, 8:03pm by Bill Barnwell


by ABW (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 2:52pm

Do I start Frank Gore over either Brian Westbrook or Rudi Johnson? If so, which one do I bench? Westbrook, since the Indy D will be completely keyed in on him? Does anyone know if Bob Sanders is playing this weekend?

by ABW (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 2:54pm

Oh, and Nalen got fined 25K, and Olshansky got a 10K fine, so apparently the NFL agrees with Bill.

by solarjetman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 3:04pm

I'm still wondering if Nalen's stunt was an act of idiocy/frustration, or a deliberate attempt to provoke Olshansky into retaliating.

Only Nalen knows, and he's not talking.

by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 3:10pm

1: Start Brian Westbrook if it means that you have to bench LT. The Colts defense keying on your running game is like Canada's army being super prepared for a US nuclear attack. Westbrook could run for infinite yards.

That said, we'll still lose. Chances are dude's going to shatter his skeletal structure on a small pebble during a conventional run-to-the-sideline 5-yard route. So maybe don't play him, I dunno, my fantasy team is only in first because the other guy lost Donovan.

Besides, Ian saying your team will cover a 9 point spread is a kiss of death.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 3:20pm

Damn you, Ian. Damn you straight to hell. Not only do we have to overcome the Jeff Garcia Experience, but now we have to overcome your pick, too.

by Brian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 3:22pm

Just heard Peter King say that Shanahan defended Nalen - said that his QB had the option to spike or pass, and that Nalen couldn't know what had actually happened.

What garbage. But it speaks volumes to the amoral mindset of the Denver philosophy ..... "It's legal, so it's OK." The NFL should simply outlaw all chop blocks. Look how far the pendulum has swung on protecting the QB. Some poor Cowboy got flagged for 15 yards when he breathed on Manning. But Nalen's block is "legal?" Give me a break.

by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 3:25pm

Shiancoe of the Giants also got fined $25K for a cut block that injured Donovan Darius, but according to the ref was legal (see link).
I don't understand how a player can get fined for a cut block that was not illegal, even if it was dirty. The only thing worse than the NFL's refs seems to be the NFL's decisions on fines. Last week Hobson of the Jets got penalized and fined for a clean hit, Jacobs of the Giants gor penalized and fined for his pregancy TD celebration, now players are gettingfined for legal plays that weren't penalized.

by Blair (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 3:26pm

No "Keep Choppin' Wood" award this week? Slackers...

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 3:30pm

Rivers or Hasselbeck? I am almost for sure going with Riviers, but OAK D is so much better than GB on the road...

by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 3:53pm

Re 8 - My guess is there's no KCW award this week for humanitarian reasons; otherwise, it would have been awarded to Donovan McNabb's knee.

by PackMan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 3:53pm

Westbrook, Taylor, and Alexander. Which 2 do I start?

by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 3:57pm

I can't believe I'm defending Theismann on this but the reference is to the fact that every Michael Jordan jumpshot seemed to come at a clutch situation. Obviously he shot a lot more than that, but after several years we tend to remember the big shots that hung up in the air for a second before coming down for the win or the start of a comeback or just sometimes missed. Theismann seems to be referring to that moment between the shot or pass, and the whoosh or catch.

When you are watching the game live and, unlike on tv, you see the open receiver and the accurate throw, you automatically think CATCH! But that wasn't what was happening and I think Theismann got the description of the feeling just about right. The big moment, not just any shot, an MJ shot in a clutch situation. That same tightness in your stomach wondering if its going to go in.
Theismann says some pretty stupid things, but that wasn't one of them. I think it was actually one of his better.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 4:03pm

Think about Olshansky's ejection. He missed 4 plays? For getting to punch Nalen in the head. With no suspension, and the guy who got punched ended up with $15k greater fine. Amusing how no one is outraged.

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 4:08pm

I should also note that I wrote this before Olshansky and Nalen's fines were announced.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 4:20pm

#4 Infinite yards? Naaah. They'd probably take him out once he wore out his shoes.

#6 Shanny actually said "spike or pass"??? Holy crap, then the rest of the OL just assumed spike since they stood around like trees. You'd think the center--who calls OL protection schemes--and the rest of the OL would be on the same page.... in fact, of the 22 men on the field, 21 assumed spike and Nalen was the only one. In the whole stadium, 67,349 people assumed... okay, enough already. I think based on that comment, the NFL should fine Shanny for perjury.

And speaking of the "brushing" QB roughing calls, what ever happened to DL men who come in with momentum but clearly are too late for a sack, but they make contact so they end up hugging the QB and physically holding him up to avoid the penalty? You used to see that a fair amount--clearly they were trying to protect him and avoid a penalty.

These days I tend to see (or just notice maybe) guys putting out their arms like albatrosses or TV crooks saying "I didn't do it". That appears to be not enough effort to avoid hurting someone, whereas actually holding him up shows some sincere effort to me. Did the hugs start getting flags too? Hell, whenever I see a guy throw his arms out, I instantly suspect him, or at least I assume he knows he's in a gray area.

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 4:25pm

Think about Olshansky’s ejection. He missed 4 plays? For getting to punch Nalen in the head. With no suspension, and the guy who got punched ended up with $15k greater fine. Amusing how no one is outraged.

#13 - It's analogous to the spitting thing last week. Doesn't matter if the guy's ejected or whatever; the point was that he was provoked into attacking and wouldn't have otherwise, and the person being aggressive did a flagrantly unsportsmanlike act to provoke him. Nalen's a douchebag.

#1: Cinci's playing Cleveland, right? Start Westbrook and Gore. Gore is going up against the defense that made Maurice Morris look good. Westbrook is going against the defense that makes everyone look good. RJ is going against a fairly decent defense that stopped Atlanta's rush. Seems clear to me.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 4:26pm

Doozey of questions this week...

Rivers (OAK), Hasselbeck (GB) or Green (DEN)?

Dunn (NO) or Addai (PHI)?

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 4:28pm

Some fantasy questions:

1.) Which D do I start? Dallas at home against the Bucs, or San Diego at home against Oakland? Both are ridiculously good matchups, but I dunno which is better. I'm leaning towards Dallas at the mo, cos the Chargers don't look so hot with all the injuries. But they are playing Oakland, which is hard to ignore.

2.) Which WRs (3) out of Braylon Edwards (V CIN), Greg Jennings (@ SEA), Mark Clayton (V Pit), Burress (@ TEN), Glenn (V TB) and Jevon Walker (@ KC).

I'm currently leaning towards Edwards (cos the Bengals defence is baaaad) and Clayton (cos I've had success playing guys against PIT) and one other. Probs not Burress cos Pacman will be covering him, not Glenn cos Romo isn't targeting him much and the Cowboys will probably just be draining clock in the second half. I think Walker is the better option than Jennings. Plus I traded Philip Rivers to get him (I have Carson Palmer, and only picked Rivers up off waivers a few weeks back anyway), so I feel I should use my investment. Which is idiotic thinking, but thinking nonetheless.

Any input? Also, should I consider dropping Ben Watson (I have Heap) to pick up another RB (I only have 3, but they are Gore, LT and McGahee), or should I keep him to deny other teams and have someone incase Todd "Questionable" Heap changes to Todd "Out" Heap?

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 4:29pm

And by 'spitting thing last week' I meant 'spitting thing last year in the playoffs where the guy slugged the other guy and wasn't penalized or fined'

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 4:33pm

RE #8

What, of course there's a Keep Choppin' Wood award? And it certainly wasn't edited in after your comment!

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 4:36pm

How DARE you would suggest such a thing, #20.

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 4:36pm

#17: Hass, I think. Rivers didn't do so great against Oakland the last time and won't need to this time. Seattle needs a win and Hass needs to show he can do it well again. Green...will be handing the ball off a lot. Also, Dunn - Addai against a good Phi def isn't a great matchup relative to Dunn against NO - especially since Dunn likes outside runs and NO is so weak against 'em.

#18 - start SD. They got ridiculous points against Brooks last time, they'll likely do it again this time even with a busted line. Also, I'd go with Burress, Edwards and Walker; you can't sit Walker even going against the tough vs. #1 WR KC def.

by Schlom (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:18pm

What's crazy about the Nalen-Olshansky situation is the penalty for Nalen is less because he didn't injure Olshansky. Even though his intent was to hurt Igor, possibly ended his season, nothing really happens since he failed. How does that make sense. Nalen's actions are much worse than an DB making a huge hit on a WR since there is some other intent other than just to injure (intimidation, etc.) Nalen was only trying to injure Olshansky after the whistle blew while the player wasn't ready. How he wasn't suspended is a mystery to me.

by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:19pm

22: Rivers didn't do so great because the coaching staff didn't ask him to do much of anything being as it was his first start and all.

by Diane (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:20pm

Two phrases that just SHOULDN'T be in the same sentence ....

Bill Parcells ....
Peanut Butter shower ...

by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:21pm

Fantasy time:
Winona Ryder or the now Bond girl?


Hasselbeck or Romo?

I have LT starting as one of 3 rbs:
need two of these:

Stephen Alexander
Tatum Bell
Deshaun Foster
DeAngelo Williams
Jamal Lewis

3 of these
Andre Johnson

I dropped philly because of expected short fields and offenses not having to take chances to beat them in high scoring games:
Minnesota at Arizona?
There are a bunch of teams that can be picked up. ANy suggestions as to a good matchup this wek for a second tier defense?

by Dagagad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:23pm

Hey was top of my leaue and had rediculous point total as I have LJ and McNabb. Now I am joint top whilst stil having out scored everybody by 150 pts or so. Who should I replace McNabb with? I have Green on my roster. Favre, Plummer, Johnson, McNair, Frye, Young, Leinart, and whole load of other QBs who are not McNabb(god daamnit). Who should I pick up?

by Dagagad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:29pm


Go with Romo at TB
Williams at RB cos Alexander and bell arent 100% as mo as far as I kno. Williams looks like starter in Car.
Wayne and Johnson at WR. When in doubt go with your No 1s.
Minnesota D

by Dagagad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:31pm


How did u get LT and Alexander in the same leauge. You ae talking about Shaun Alexander, right? The only stephen alexander i can think of is a tight end.

by Adam B. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:33pm

26: Romo is the only one I feel strongly about.
17: Rivers, Addai

THenry v. NYG or Ronnie Brown @ Det?

by Dagagad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:35pm

sorry for quadruple post


Wayne isnt a no 1, sorry.

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:49pm

3 of these
Andre Johnson"

I'm gonna go out on a limb, and suggest that out of those 3, you should play those 3.

by andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:53pm

I think the KCW has kind of gone from revelling in a single horrible decision (the original Del Rio incident) to just kind of poor and generally lousy play at a key moment. I kind of liked it better the other way.

by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 5:55pm

I traded Carson Palmer for him when he was injured. I had Hasselbeck already so I figured what were the chances of him getting injured. Anyhow, as long as I make the playoffs, I felt like I could go deep with Shaun Alexander healthy and LT.


You think Romo is a better bet than Hassebeck? Romo gave me only 2 points in the win against Indianapolis.

by Money (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 6:00pm

Does anyone know the status of Tony Gonzalez? Damn Thursday games are screwing everything up. Also, has anyone heard more as to how long Colston will be out? At first I heard he had a high ankle sprain, but the only info I could find said it might be a high ankle sprain and he might miss one or two weeks. If he plays I don't want to not play him, as I have no WR depth.

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 6:06pm

I'm also in the Romo/Hasselhoff quandry. Romo was good last week, but no TDs hurts. Probably won't happen again, I'd rather ride the hot hand (Romo) than someone returning from injury (especially considering Seattle's offense relies on extremely precise timing).

by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 6:21pm

3 WR:
sorry, I meant
Marvin Harrison
Andre Johnson

by flex help (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 6:28pm

looking for a good flex option this week--any thoughts on should i go with wali lundy (vs. NYJ), donald driver (vs. SEA) or deion branch (vs. GB)? Thanks

by dbt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 6:44pm

How many people have both Rivers and Hasselbeck on this board? I have those two and Grossman. Eueargh. Is it evil Grossman or not? Who can tell?

by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 6:46pm

Chris Chambers is on the waiver wire. There has been some rumors that he will explode against detroit. I see on this site that Detroit is 31st DVOA against the pass but 8th against #1 receivers. I gather that means most people here think he is a poor play this week?

Harrison is against a good Philly defense, ramked 3rd vs the pass, but they are #25 against #1 recerivers.

Housh is against Cleveland's defense ranked 5th against the pass and 9nth against #2 receivers.

Andre Johnson is against a 26th ranked pass defense, 18nth against #1 receivers.

Jennings is against a 25th ranked Seattle pass defense, that is its best, 12th, against #2 receivers, plus Favre's injury.

So am I reading this correctly to surmise that my top three WRs should be in this order:

Andre Johnson

by sam_acw (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 7:15pm

Nalen is probably an HOF player as he has blocked so well for so many succesful runners. He should have been ejected from the game, and probably given a suspension for that block. It was totally pointless - there was no attempt to block (ie prevent or cause movement) only to injure.
He ought make the Hall but I hope he waits a while to do so.

by jc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 7:23pm

I have had the worst luck choosing my starters over the last few weeks and decided to ask for some help.

QB (1): Hasselbeck vs. GB or Vick vs. NO
RB (2): L. Johnson vs. DEN, F. Gore vs. StL or B. Westbrook vs. IND
WR (3): Harrison and two of the following, S. Moss vs. Car, M. Jenkins vs. NO or M. Muhammad vs. NE
Def (1): Miami vs. DET or Carolina vs. WAS

Thank you in advance.

by Jim (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 7:31pm

Gonzalez, LJ Smith, or Colston?

by johnt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 7:40pm

41: I actually think this incident will go a long way towards keeping Nalen out of the HoF. Previously the sportswriters would have just had to make vague references to "dirty plays", but now every single time he comes up for a vote they'll finally have a specific example of it. For an offensive lineman it doesn't take much to keep them out. Probably not fair, but hey, karma's a bitch.

by Jesus Christ (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 7:45pm

That clip and Marty's response reminds me of one of my favorite eminem freestyles:

"Slim Shady, brain dead like Jim Brady
I'm a M80, you Lil' like that Kim lady
I'm buzzin, Dirty Dozen, naughty rotten rhymer
Cursin at you players worse than Marty Schottenheimer"

by Boots Day (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 7:51pm

It seems obvious to me that Nalen knew what he was doing. As I said in another thread, the play seemed designed solely to draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, so Nalen succeeded in what he was trying to do. Big ups to Tom Nalen.

Whether this makes him more of an assmunch or less of one is not for me to say. Although I guess he couldn't be any more of an assmunch that he already is.

And it would be nice if Shanahan would take a page from his offensive line and shut his piehole.

by seamus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 8:17pm

#40, I don't even know if Chambers is a #1 receiver anymore. Wes Welker has more receptions and yards.

by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 8:50pm

Should I start Romo or Bulger?

I have absolutely no confidence in Bulger's ability to get things done with that O-line

by Gerry (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 9:32pm

I'm back to begging. Two years ago, I came to Al and Vivek for help with my team in my dynasty league, and they gave me sage advice which got me over the top and helped me win it for the first time in 15 years.

I got cocky. My team *should* be a dynasty, but I got picked off in the playoffs last year. And this year, despite being the highest scoring team in the league, I am likely going to be the #3 seed due to four losses already, with two of the losses coming to teams 1 game ahead of me in the standings.

I have no problems at QB-- Carson is the man. I have no problems at RB-- LT and a hopefully rebounding Shaun (and Jacobs for when Shaun was out and if he continues to suck). My kicker, Kaeding, has been fine. And my D is middle of the pack, my beloved G-men.

But for the life of me, I just cannot draft wide receivers, nor can I choose the right one to start any week. We treat TEs as WRs, and I need to start three of the following miscreants:
Antonio Bryant, SF
Mark Clayton, Bal
Patrick Crayton, Dal
Vernon Davis, SF
D.J. Hackett, Sea
Chad Jackson, NE
Brandon Lloyd, Was
Santana Moss, Was
Wes Welker, Mia
Roy Williams, Det

Roy is an always start. But who the hell else out of this group should get the next two starting slots (this week, next week, etc.)? TDs score six, 100 yards gets a bonus point.

Muchas gracias.

by compucrazy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 9:40pm

Ok I have a deep league and my two quarterbacks are Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck. Is it better to start Hasselback coming off 3-4 weeks of rust or Favre coming off the worst day of overthrows ever seen? Who do you guys think will bouncew back first?

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 9:57pm


I'd avoid Bryant, who may get benched for his DUI.

Moss and Welker would be your best bets, me thinks.

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 10:10pm

#49 - if Moss starts, he should be good. Otherwise go with Lloyd. Welker is also worth some points, though he doesn't seem so great at scoring.

#50: I still think Hass will do great, especially after seeing what Brady did to their secondary.

by Gerry (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 10:39pm

"Who do you guys think will bouncew back first?"

If Hass plays, I think he's the obvious start.

by mattman (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 12:56am

Here's a question - Do I dare sit Larry Johnson against Denver tomorrow night? I have Westbrook and Gore vs. the 27th and 28th-ranked rush defenses, and LJ on four days' rest going up against the #11 Broncos. Plus it's a PPR league, and Garcia under center probably means about a dozen dumpoffs to Westbrook. I can't really sit LJ, can I? And if not, who's the better play alongside him, the red-hot Gore or the reception-gorged Westbrook? Man what I'd give for a W/R slot in this league.

by Paralis (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 2:00am

#7 - I, for one, am happy to see that Shiancoe got fined, and heavily (by pretty lax NFL standards). Shiancoe overran a route on a screen pass, past the safety he needed to block, couldn't get back to block him legally, and dove at the back/side of his knee. I thought at the time that it was the dirtiest play I've seen all year, and on replay still think so (it had as little bearing on the play as Nalen, and happened at full-speed). I was a bit surprised to see it get so little attention during the broadcast, and after, and wonder if Darius's own reputation is the reason.

Whether it was a legal block or not is an academic question that can only be answered with a protractor--what we know is what's on the tape. A dive at a player's knee that resulted in a serious injury. There's no way to reconstrue that as a clean if misguided play.

by jdb (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 2:26am

when I saw Nalen pull that hideous cheap shot on Olshanksy I was kind of stunned when Madden and Michaels were just like "oh yeah, it's cool, he's blocking, it's legal, whatever." especially since weren't numerous NFL "experts" and talking heads all up in arms because Jerramy Stevens almost (but not quite) got nailed in the groin by a Raider he apparently at least goaded into it? isn't this like a million times worse, at least? I don't understand anything about the league's policy on fines or suspensions, but I guess no one else does either, especially when the fines for deliberately trying to severely injure other players (and not even in the context of play!) and excessive TD celebrations are similar. I mean if you're going to punish anything on the field, this oughtta be it. sure, Nalen is a cheap shot artist, but I'm sure he's not alone in that. man, I don't really know where this comment is going...or why I should care, I guess the whole thing just seemed incredibly surreal, but maybe I just haven't been watching football long enough to be wise stuff like this.

by jdb (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 2:27am

last line should read-"to be wise TO stuff like this"

by centrifuge (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 3:46am

39: I do, too, actually. It must be something in the water.

by J.R. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 5:32am

In one of my fantasy leagues there is a cap on 'moves' allowed during a season (15). I'm at 13 now and might need a QB with McNabb's injury. Who do you like for the rest of the year (or what combo of two?) since I won't be able to just play matchups out of the following:

J.P. Losman (I have now)
Joey Harrington (I have now)
Matt Leinart
Bruce Gradkowski
Charlie Frye
David Garrard
Aaron Brooks
Jason Campbell

Should I drop Losman or Harrington for any of those?

by fontaine (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 10:07am

Nails (Nalen) delivered a cheap shot allright. It was in direct response to Olshansky sucker punching Cooper Carlisle (RG) in the kidney earlier in the game. Coop is questionable for tonight's Thanksgiving game because of it.

Both plays were reprehensible but that's the reality of trench warfare. What's interesting though is the biased angle taken in your report which makes no mention of Olshansky kidney punching Denver's RG. Please be better prepared the next time you choose to take a moral stand on an issue like this with ALL the relevant and applicable information.

by SJM (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 10:29am

Without going through all the comments, can I just say that Bill uses the word "whilst" WAY too frequently? It's like reading a George R. R. Martin novel.

by Adam B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 10:49am

54: Never, ever sit LJ. I'd start Westbrook over Gore against the IND run d.

59: none of them are that much better than what you have if the cap is an issue.

Anyone, anyone on Ronnie Brown v Travis Henry?

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 12:13pm

What’s crazy about the Nalen-Olshansky situation is the penalty for Nalen is less because he didn’t injure Olshansky. Even though his intent was to hurt Igor, possibly ended his season, nothing really happens since he failed. How does that make sense.

It's the same principle by which attempted murder carries a lesser sentence than murder.

by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 3:39pm

#59 - Mebbe Campbell? Although he's not started much he has good projections, and a running game that is serviceable, but not great. With Moss there's always the chance a few short balls will turn into big TDs, and they have some decent deep threats. They'll probably be behind quite a bit too, so inflated yardage numbers. David Garrard just wins, but you don't really figure on him consistently being a 2td 200 yard guy.

That being said, your options suck. I'd check the matchups remaining before you make a choice, but I can't be bothered doing that for you!

RE: Sitting LJ. I'd consider it. Although LT ran all over Denver this week, and they are coming off a shorter week than KC, so are likely to struggle a little. Depends on whether they figure on making Trent Green beat them. But if there was ever a week to sit LJ its this week with Westbrook and Gore playing week Run D's and both playing well.

by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 3:55pm

Big 6-0: True. But did you watch every play Olshansky made during the game and every play Nalen did as well? Or did you just read an article that listed three things that Olshansky did? Because I'm willing to bet Nalen did some other scummy stuff in the game too. You should really follow your own advice.

#61: You mean twice?

by Eric (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 11:23pm

Re: Shanahan's explanation for Nalen's block... if Plummer had picked the pass option, wouldn't Nalen have been illegally downfield after diving across the LOS toward Igor? That doesn't seem to hold water.

by hector (not verified) :: Fri, 11/24/2006 - 12:06am

Just curious why you like Holt to break out of his funk. He's due? Wishing it were so? Or do you have an actual reason?

The Niners sacked Bulger six times in Week 2 and that was with Pace. I'm curious to see if the Rams can keep their QB standing for most of Sunday.

by hector (not verified) :: Fri, 11/24/2006 - 12:09am

I know, I know, the big news of the week is that Dallas is going to run the table and win the NFC East, the Super Bowl, and Bill Parcells is going to bathe in a peanut butter shower and life will be fantastic. Color me slightly skeptical. The difference between these teams is about 42% worth of DVOA.

Some of that has to be Bledsoe's fault. The Cowboys of November and December are clearly a different animal.

One player doesn't matter that much, you say? Phooey. Note how quickly FO washed its hands of the Eagles as soon as McNabb got hurt.

by hector (not verified) :: Fri, 11/24/2006 - 12:11am

54, you never sit LJ, unless he's missing a limb. And even then I think I'd start him. I hope he's in your lineup tonight. I'll bench a good player in some spots, but an elite guy like him, you have to roll with him every week.

by hector (not verified) :: Fri, 11/24/2006 - 12:13am

On Detroit, it's simple - #1 wideouts don't do a lot against them, but everyone else does. Second wideouts, third wideouts, tight ends, second tight ends. The depth of this secondary is laughably bad.

by mattman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/24/2006 - 1:27am

Well, after looking at Denver's recent defensive trends and noting that their defensive DVOA was likely inflated by their insane redzone defense in the early season, I decided to start LJ, and it paid off. That's right, careful study of FO's advanced, innovative statistics convinced me to start Larry Johnson in fantasy. That's the kind of insight you can only get here at Football Outsiders.

by morganja (not verified) :: Fri, 11/24/2006 - 1:44am

Wow. Thanks guys. After much deliberation and see-sawing back and forth I benched hass and went with Romo. I just got back from two Thanksgiving dinners without tv and checked the boxscore. Wow. Five touchdowns.

by Kuato (not verified) :: Fri, 11/24/2006 - 3:03am

Re 72. Two Thanksgiving dinners with NO FOOTBALL! Some things are just wrong. And congrats, I dodged a bullet as my opponent decided to play Trent Green and Leave Romo on the bench.

by morganja (not verified) :: Fri, 11/24/2006 - 3:07am

Trent Green? The guy who hands off to Larry Johnson? Do hand-offs count as completions in your league?

Good Lord. Poor guy. In my league that is 38 points for Romo, and 1 point for Green.

Who was the chick he dumped for his wife? I bet she's hot.

by noah of the ark (not verified) :: Fri, 11/24/2006 - 1:46pm

Well, Ned, to be honest, when you picked the Packers I thought it was like a revelation, like the world was about to end. But then, it didn't.

That's how it usually goes with these things. It was exciting, though, while it lasted...

by noah of the ark (not verified) :: Fri, 11/24/2006 - 1:47pm

lol, sorry, I meant Ian, not Ned...

by Nick (not verified) :: Fri, 11/24/2006 - 8:32pm

Need some serious help with the following flex decision.

Gado (v. NYJ),
Leon Wash (v. Hou),
Cotchery (v. Hou)
Ced. Houston (v. Hou)
Battle (v. STL)...

Thanks alot.

by compucrazy (not verified) :: Sat, 11/25/2006 - 5:48am

77 I would go Leon washington at houston promising rookie rb probably should outscore a good wideout.
Now my own dilemma that is only a dilemma because it seems too obvious. Frank Gore at STL or Willie Parker at BAL, I am going with Gore, anyone think he might collapse now?

by calig23 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/25/2006 - 12:32pm

So, in the fallout of the McNabb and Favre injuries, I am forced to play 2 out of the following 3 QBs:

Gimpy Favre at Seattle
(Good/Bad?) Big Ben at Baltimore
McNair at home against Pittsburgh



Rudi Johnson at Cleveland


Frank Gore at St. Louis

by Chris M (not verified) :: Sun, 11/26/2006 - 3:30pm

Hasselbeck returning from injury or Vince Young against the gimpy Giants D?

by fontaine (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 9:57am


I watched the game but didn't (couldn't) follow every play/interaction that occured between the two players. However, that is why I represented both of the plays by Olshansky/Nalen as: "reprehensible but that’s the reality of trench warfare."

The issue isn't about the regularity of questionable plays that occur in the trenches but our/NFL's reaction to them when it is caught on camera or after the play. It's our immediate reaction that such and such player is dirty or should be banned (which was the tone of your article) when the reality is far more complex and not so black and white.

by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 8:03pm

That would be Nalen's fault for making such an obvious move. It's not as if Olshansky walked up to Nalen as he was heading back to the huddle and punched him in the kidney.