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13 Sep 2006

Scramble for the Ball: Today We Will Run (Marginally) Faster

by Bill Barnwell and Ian Dembsky

Bill: Well, last week's Scramble didn't work out so well. Immediately after the column was uploaded, our server decided to take a nap. But that will happen. Ian's best bets ... struggled. Slightly. My suggestions for Week 1 pickups, well, one didn't play, and the three that did, well, would have been very nice Loser League picks. Oh -- my Loser League team! It out-underperformed Ian's team (whose players he clearly misunderestimated).

Ian: Keep in mind, those of you who would laugh at my prediction of Chad Pennington as Loser League MVP, there are still many, many weeks to go. Oh, and he wasn't exactly starting against an intimidating defense, now was he? If he has a strong game against New England next week, it'll be time to admit that I was mistaken. Of course, it's unlikely anyone will beat out Mike Nugent for the honor anyways.

I'm still staying strong with my predictions for the Ravens' division title (more on this later), the Giants' run to the Super Bowl (stupid penalties cost them, but they outplayed the Colts), and for the Vikings' winning their division as well. Allow me to elaborate on Minnesota for a bit.

I briefly touched on it in the Football Outsiders 2006 Season Predictions, but I'm convinced that the Vikings will win the NFC North. It comes down to two simple things: The running game, led by Chester Taylor and Steve Hutchinson, and the smart, efficient quarterback play of Brad Johnson. The Vikings' defeat of the Redskins was a perfect example of what I expected to happen. They pounded the ball with the run, used the short passing game to help get first downs, and occasionally took advantage of the big-play ability of Troy Williamson (though it'd be nice if he could hang on to a few more of those passes). On defense, the Vikings were able to consistently get pressure from their defensive linemen, which will go a long way toward controlling the defensive side of the field. The Bears seem like the consensus pick for the division title, but I don't believe Rex Grossman will handle the Minnesota defense the way Brad Johnson can: Taking advantage of everything given to him, while giving nothing away.

I suppose I should touch on my beloved Bucs, but I don't know what to say. All I know is that the Patriots once lost 31-0 in Week 1 before winning the Super Bowl that season (you might recall that as the "Lawyer Milloy" game). Mulligan, perhaps?

Some other random things I wanted to touch on from this weekend's games: Apparently Jamie Foxx is a Cowboys fan who "loves what the Redskins are doing." Hate to break it to you Jamie, but that means you're not a Cowboys fan ... New England may have won against Buffalo, but it was far from pretty. Their passing game has a long way to go before they can be considered Super Bowl contenders ... It may be early, but it looks like it's going to be a very long season for Cleveland, Tennessee and Oakland ... Many people were surprised at my last-place ranking for the LaDanian Tomlinson team in the Sheep League Auction Review. One week of football shows it wasn't far off. I'll give you one guess as to which team is in first place ... Perhaps Michael Vick's passing accuracy isn't all that important; certainly not as long as the Falcons can run for 250 yards a game ... Things better turn around in Denver in a hurry ... Deion Branch's signing with the Seahawks may not be as much a blessing as it seems. There are only so many touchdowns to go around in Seattle ... And finally, a message to all you Drew Bledsoe defenders out there: Drew Bledsoe sucks.

Bill: Really, you could leave that note for all defenders of anything -- end zones, shoreline, public, whatever.

Loser League Stars of the Week

Bill: I really wish we had a "Baseball Stars" graphic or something to put up with Mike Nugent's head on someone's body for this. These aren't official totals, so if there are any mistakes in my calculations, don't worry -- the correct ones will show up for the actual contest.

QB: Chris Simms' 0 this week is a wonderful start to the season -- and most weeks, it would carry the (Sun)day for awful quarterback performance. For Week 1, though, everyone has to take a back seat to The Snake. Jake Plummer's -2 is a performance befitting utter, utter atrociousness. I think Plummer might have scored higher if he were operating the Aaron Brooks Glitch offense.

RB: Would you believe Shaun Alexander? A fumble and only 51 yards will do that to you. The NFL MVP rolled a 3 this week. Reuben Droughns, although not fumbling, contributed 27 yards and absolutely nothing else. Well, I said Droughns wouldn't play a big part in the Browns game, and I was half-right. Wali Lundy finishes off our RB set with a 3; while there's no current bonus system in place for Loser League, you should really get points for having a player end a game with multiple receptions and, somehow, negative receiving yards.

WR: Picking wide receivers is really the most subtle nuance of the Loser League -- they need to catch the ball, but only twice. Essentially, anytime you can get a one or zero from a wide receiver in a week, you're going to be doing well. This week had several guys sink to those lows: Roscoe Parrish had a 0 (20 yards receiving, 2 catches, and a fumble), while Corey Bradford, Robert Ferguson, Arnaz Battle, Mark Clayton, and Bryan Gilmore all clocked in with single point games.

K: Football Outsiders was built on three things, folks: DVOA, DPAR, and Mike Nugent jokes. In Week 1, Mike Nugent was his own punch line. Mike Nugent's -4 may be, from what I can tell, up there with the all-time awful Loser League weekly performances.

Intro Music: I know this isn't quantifiable, but if you somehow selected Pink for your Loser League team, you win. If you, alternately, don't know who Pink is or what I'm talking about, you win ... in life.

Jersey Watch

Ian: For those of you that read our AFC Over/Under predictions, I asserted that the Ravens' hitting the over on eight wins was my favorite wager on the board. Bill was not inclined to agree, and thus we ended up wagering an Ed Reed jersey vs a Giants jersey on the outcome. I was planning on keeping a running feature on how things were going in this regard, but given how things started off for Baltimore, I'm definitely doing it now.

This week, Baltimore went in and simply dismantled my beloved Bucs, 27-0. About the only thing to take solace in is that no one got injured. From the Ravens' standpoint, Jamal Lewis looked strong in his second season back from a prison sentence, Steve McNair completed almost 63 percent of his passes in a place where quarterbacks rarely complete 50 percent, and the defense showed that it's as strong as ever. It's only Week 1, but the road to nine wins is paved quite smoothly at the moment ...

Next week: At home versus Oakland. If you're matched up against Baltimore's fantasy defense this week, be afraid. Be very afraid.

I'm Frisman Jackson, Here's Me Rearing My Head

Bill: Why, you ask, do I bring up Frisman Jackson? Well, in last year's post-Week 1 Scramble, Vivek Ramgopal described him as "the player every fantasy owner will be trying to pick up, then trade to you for Tiki Barber next week." Vivek was right; in hindsight, my decision to trade Tiki for a package of Frisman Jackson, an Ultimate Frisbee, and a package of Furbies from Don West was ill-advised. Frisman had 24 catches all season and didn't make it out of camp this year. Now then, I may have deservedly lost some credibility when it comes to Week 1 Mirages after last week's column. That being said, it's much easier to pick a loser than it is a winner. This year's Frisman Jackson is Tennessee's Bobby Wade -- 76 yards in Week 1 -- who's been, according to DVOA, the worst wide receiver in professional football over the last two years. If you have him on your team and receive even a cursory offer, it behooves you to accept it. I don't even care if you are getting Frisman Jackson in return. You are behooven.*

Best Bets

Bill: We still haven't picked a name for the Mortal Ultra Lock Best Bet yet. Please continue to send in suggestions, preferably not ones involving recently deceased European criminals. Thanks!

Bill (2-1 last week)

MIAMI (-7.0) over Buffalo

Always good to get the season off to a winning start. I'm going to keep it going in Miami, where the Dolphins' poor performance last week was a representation of the great team they were up against more than their own mediocrity. On the other hand, the Bills' performance against the Patriots was simple to analyze: when the Patriots linemen had been secretly replaced by Jean-Claude Van Damme and other clones as such, the Bills looked great. Once the terrorist threat was averted and the Patriots' linemen returned to active duty, the Bills looked rather impotent. Dolphins get back on track here.

ATLANTA (-6.0) over Tampa Bay

I'm sure many successful bettors bet against a team one week and then back them the next week! I am not one of them, but I still like Atlanta here. This year's book is down on Tampa Bay after years of being rosy about their chances, and while they won't be as bad as they were last week, that may just be because it's hard for them to be any worse. Atlanta by a touchdown, at least.

New York Giants (+3.0) over PHILADELPHIA

Ian loves the Giants' chances this year. I, even as a Giants fan, am skeptical. This week, though, the Giants are going to be playing an Eagles team that they match up well against -- the Giants' weakness (pass defense) is mirrored by the Eagles' (pass offense). Giants will keep it within a figgie here.

Ian (1-2 last week)

Sigh ... An ugly start to the season of Best Bets. Fortunately, I feel much better about this week's picks than last week's.

GREEN BAY (+2.0) over New Orleans

New Orleans' win at Cleveland last week was a very nice one, but how much of it was good play by the Saints, and how much of it was poor play by Cleveland? I'm definitely leaning toward more of the latter. I fully expect Green Bay, after getting demolished at home by Chicago, to rebound against the Saints in a big way. If you're dying to start Brett Favre for old times' sake, this is the week to do it.

MINNESOTA (+2.0) over Carolina

I don't get it. Carolina gets walloped at home while their offense looks clueless without Steve Smith. Meanwhile, Minnesota goes on the road and defeats a solid Redskins team in primetime. And now the Vikings are underdogs at home? If Steve Smith comes back and plays, I may regret this one, but word is he's out at least another week. Look for the Vikings to repeat last week's performance -- methodical yet effective offense, and strong defensive play.

INDIANAPOLIS (-13.5) over Houston

Indy knows they were lucky to come away with a victory against the Giants. They were out-muscled up front and were not effective on offense as they used to be. They'll be out to prove this week that not only can they win, but they can win big like people expect them to. How convenient, then, that the Texans are coming to town.

Scramble for the Ball Mailbag

Todd S.: Michael Jenkins is still available in two of the leagues I'm in. Do I pick him up, or stick with Roddy White?

Bill: Is "both" an acceptable answer? At this point, it's hard to say whether Jenkins is the #1 receiver in Atlanta as of yet -- mainly because there's only been one week of data and one game's worth of plays. Keep in mind that Atlanta was rushing the ball for most of the second half with a double-digit lead -- that may be the case against Tampa Bay this week as well, which may still not provide enough information as to how valuable Roddy White may or may not be this season. Without being able to give a straight yes-or-no answer with any sort of authority, my advice would be to watch the Atlanta game this week, if at all possible. See how the offense employs White and Jenkins, the types of routes they're running on pass plays, whose side of the field Michael Vick's focusing his tiny passing cone on, etc. That may be the only way to determine who your best bet is at Atlanta WR for the rest of the season.

Alex B.: Hey guys. Long time listener, first time caller.
I could use some sit/start advice this week. I have to start three of the following WRs in a league with a scoring system too complicated to explain: Santana Moss, Darrell Jackson, Drew Bennett, Reggie Brown, Troy Williamson, Michael Jenkins, Deion Branch. Right now, I have Moss, Jackson, and Bennett in the lineup. After watching San Diego destroy Oakland, I'm worried that the Titans won't be able to do anything against the Chargers. Jenkins and Williamson both had good Week 1 performances, but neither has that great of a matchup. I don't want to start Brown against the Giants unless I really have to.

Ian: The first choice is easy. Santana Moss has too much big-play ability to sit on any given week. He can take a screen pass and turn it into a dozen fantasy points in the blink of an eye. Darrell Jackson is certainly your best option at WR2; a home matchup against Arizona should provide plenty of offense and fantasy points for all players involved. The third choice is certainly the toughest one. I'd stay away from Reggie Brown; the Eagles have too many better weapons available in the passing game. Deion Branch isn't start-worthy quite yet because it will take him some time to acclimate himself to his new team -- I envision him as having only spot duty on offense this weekend. Michael Jenkins also seems a risky play this week. Tampa Bay may have gotten demolished by Baltimore, but they kept the Ravens wideouts in check. I expect the Falcons to lean heavily on the run next week, with the occasional deep ball. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell if the occasional deep ball will be headed toward Jenkins, Roddy White, or even Alge Crumpler, who's been known to run a deep seam route now and then. Jenkins is as likely to put up a dozen fantasy points as he is to put up two.

That narrows it down to what I believe is the real decision: Drew Bennett or Troy Williamson. Williamson looked both great and terrible Monday night, making some nice big plays while dropping some easy catches. Drew Bennett is the clear #1 option in the Titans passing game, though as you point out, they're in for a tough matchup at San Diego this week, who completely shut down Randy Moss and the Raiders. Watching the Minnesota offense, I think Troy Williamson is emerging as a weekly fantasy starter. Their offensive philosophy seems to have become run, run, run, run, short pass to Wiggins, run, run, bomb to Williamson, repeat. The fact that he was targeted with several deep passes during Monday night's game means that it is a trend likely to continue, and he should be good for one big play a week. With a third wide receiver, that's all you really need. I'd go with Santana Moss, Darrell Jackson and Troy Williamson.

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

Ian: Perhaps the toughest part of the off-season is waiting to see which players will take home the coveted Keep Choppin' Wood awards next year, for giving their best to help their team perform its worst. There were several noteworthy performances this week, including J.P. Losman for his un-awareness in the end zone, Jake Plummer for his best efforts to start a quarterback controversy in Denver, Sean Taylor for two huge personal fouls late in the game (although the hit out-of-bounds was ticky-tack), Aaron Brooks for basically falling asleep in the pocket, and Drew Bledsoe for being, well, Drew Bledsoe. As much as it kills me to say so, however, this week's award clearly belongs to none other than Chris Simms of Tampa Bay. It's one thing to throw for only 133 yards in a home opener while leading your team to zero points. It's another to throw three interceptions in the process, one of which was returned for a touchdown. It was a truly monumental effort to help the Bucs start out 0-1, and for that I present him with the Week 1 Keep Choppin' Wood award.

*Note: Not an actual word.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell and Ian Dembsky on 13 Sep 2006

126 comments, Last at 17 Sep 2006, 6:22pm by Ralph


by Daniel (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:35pm


by Kaveman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:36pm

Once you're beehoven, do you slowly start to lose your hearing?

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:39pm

Was Van Damme thwarting the terrorist threat from on the field, or was he just subbing for the Pats linemen while THEY were off anti-terrorizing?

My first impression was the latter.

by BB (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:44pm

I'm crossing my fingers that the Raiders can at least score this week. Back-to-back shutouts are rare, but if it happens with the Ravens I'm pretty much dead this week for fantasy. On the bright side, Jamal Lewis will probably get like 30 carries as they waste time with the lead.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:51pm

I suggest the Smooth Jimmy Apollo "Lock of the week." Motto: When you're right 52% of the time, you're wrong 48% of the time.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 1:06pm

the Giants’ weakness (pass defense) is mirrored by the Eagles’ (pass offense).

It must've been some other pass offense which racked up 300+ yards and 3 passing TDs, then. :)

I think it's safe to say that with the addition of Stallworth, pass offense isn't exactly Philly's weak point.

by Jeremy Billones (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 1:07pm

#3: I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you've heard of the Van Damme film "Sudden Death". I'll also give you the benefit of the doubt that you've never seen it :)

Van Damme (whose character was a former minor league hockey goalie in addition to being a typical Van Damme character) was running from the bad guys and temporarily unarmed. He ducked into a room to hide, and discovered it was the Penguins locker room, where their starting goalie was lying injured. He swipes the guy's equipment and uniform, and sneaks into the arena and onto the Penguin's bench to hide from the goons. The coach sees him, thinks he's the starting goalie, and puts him back into the game.

Of course, Van Damme makes an incredible save on a breakway. He then punches the guy, getting a game misconduct and an ejection. He goes back to the locker room, changes back into his regular clothes, and they resume the movie.

In short, it was definitely option A. But I could see them making a Visa commercial about option B :)

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 1:09pm

I'm in a 12 team league and missed the live draft so I got auto-picked by Yahoo. I ended up with Dom Davis, Benson, Chris Perry and some other scrub at RB. Last week I managed to eke out a win but I need some serious help and nobody will trade with me.

I've shuffled the roster and now have Ladell Betts, Cedric Benson, Derrick Blaylock, Norwood and Buckhalter. We start two RBs and have two reciever/tight end slots and one wr/rb slot. My WRs are Holt, S. Moss, Driver, Wilford and Engram with Ben Watson as my TE.

My initial thought is to go with Buckhalter and Norwood as the RBs, then Holt, Moss, and Watson to fill out the combined slots. Basically, I have to make do with part-timers unless someone goes down with an injury so I'm banking on WRs getting me more production - and Brady has to throw to someone so I figure Watson's it. Does anybody have any better advice?

Samkin Gado and Michael Bennett were just dropped but I don't see them as an upgrade. There are a few other backups available but nobody that should see the field much (M. Turner, A. Thomas, et al).

by centrifuge (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 1:12pm

5: In that vein, you could have the Brian Fantana (or Sex Panther) Lock of the Week: 60% of the time, it works every time.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 1:13pm

I'm in a league where WR get .5 per reception, 1 per 15 yds receiving, and 6 per TD. Reggie Williams is on the wire, should I think about picking him up and dropping Earnest Wilford? Reggie got 7 looks (catching 6 for 47 yds and a TD) while Wilford got only 5 (catching 3 for 58 yds). Anyone have any ideas as to whether Williams will consistently get targeted more, or if this is just due to taking what Dallas was giving them?

I just looked at last year's DVOA ratings, and Dallas was 1st against #2 WR, and 4th against "other WR", so it doesn't seem like it should be to better coverage on Wilford.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 1:22pm

Bobby Wade actually looks like a real receiver in Tennessee, not just in Week 1 but also in the preseason. I didn't believe he was anything other than an uninjured live body when they picked him up late last year, but he's not only made the team but has been their most reliable receiver so far. So long as they remember he's just a slot guy, I think he'll be effective.

by Peter (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 1:24pm

6: I thought the same thing... do they think the running game is the strength?

by Adam B. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 1:36pm

Let me follow up -- if Bobby Wade is the winner of the Frisman Jackson/Fred Beasley/Richard Huntley Memorial Award, then who are the people who are FAs in most leagues who owners should pursue based on this week's performances? Jenkins seems obvious, but who else? Pennington? Alex Smith, QB? Cotchery?

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:01pm

Re #8
I think I would start Blaylock over Buckhalter this week. He got 21 touches last week, compared to 11, 11, 10, and 9 for Benson, Betts, Norwood, and Buckhalter (although Washington ran 11-17 fewer plays than the others, since they last and had no "run out the clock" runs). Yeah, his yards were low, but I take that to mean his numbers can't get any lower.

Meanwhile Buckhalter's touches came in a 13 pt vistory over last year's 30th ranked rushing defense. This week he's up against last years 2nd ranked rush D, who just held the Colts RBs to 2.4 yds/carry, and there's a lot higher chance that Philly will be passing to catch up in the 2nd half.

I just think Blaylock will get a dozen more touches than Buckhalter, and be doing it against a (slightly) less stout run D.

As for Watson vs. Blaylock/Buckhalter (whichever is not starting RB), I guess I'd have to go with Ben, since he could be good for 100 and a TD against the Jets.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:02pm

Or maybe I just pimped Watson because I had to balance out calling the Pats run D "less stout" than NY's.

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:07pm

I think the point of saying the Giant pass D is mirrored by the Philly pass O is that Philly has a _good_ passing offense, and that they'll be able to exploit that against the weak Giants pass D.

But they could also be smoking crack.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:14pm

13: Pennington might be a good pickup. His shoulder looks healed, and he should have a good game against New England's still rather suspect pass defense. Plus he still gets two games against Buffalo, and a game each against the Texans, Browns and Raiders. That is, if his shoulder holds up long enough.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:16pm

If Smith doesn't play, the Panthers will have a very difficult time defeating the Vikings at the Metrodome. Delhomme is Culpepper without the athleticism and size, and the Panthers lost a starting offensive tackle against the Falcons. The Vikings will have a difficult time scoring as well, but the home field advantage should carry the day.

People are so unused to a Vikings team which is committed to being physically dominant at the line of scrimmage, and has the personnel to do it, that they don't know how evaluate this squad. Their rushing success in the recent past has been predicated on only having seven in the box due to Randy Moss, and the Vikings defense has either not had the coaching or personnel, or both, to be physically dominant on that side of the ball.

The jury is still out on the Vikings' personnel in the defensive front seven; I wasn't all that impressed with their pass rush absent blitzing against the Redskins. There is no doubt, however, that their defensive coaching is about an order of magnitude better. Their offensive line personnel is as good as it has been since 1998, and although they obviously don't have the receivers or running backs that team did, they have a better defense than that 15-1 team; good enough for nine wins.

If Smith doesn't play, or has limited effectiveness due to bad hamstrings on artificial turf, and the Vikings get off to a 2-0 start, the week three matchup in the Metrodome vs. the Bears will be huge, and the Vikings will have a crack at ten, or, if everything goes right, eleven wins. Here's hoping that Lovie Smith is stubborn enough to stick with Grossman, no matter how he plays this week against what looks like an improved Lions defense.

by C (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:16pm

6, 12: I thought it was a typo. He meant to say that NYG's strength (pass defense) is mirrored by the PHI strength (pass offense).

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:17pm

I'm not a fantasy player, but I will say that Pennington looked very good. Only a couple throws were more than 12-15 yards downfield, but those that were were accurate, and he was really good on the under 10 passes. The winning TD, in particular, was an excellent throw against good coverage from Chris Hope. Alex Smith looked... like an NFL QB. I'm not convinced he'll be a consistently good player this year, but he might be worth a start when facing a poor defense.

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:18pm

Philadelphia's rushing DVOA has been higher than its passing DVOA every year of the Reid era.

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:37pm

I would also say Jerricho Cotchery might be a nice runner-up for the Frisman Jackson Award.

by ElJefe (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:44pm

Re: #21

Heh. So I guess every team has a weakness every year? I think it would more sense to only describe a team as having a weakness if the unit/facet of the game is below average. The Eagles' passing game won't be below average this year.

If you wanted to be more specific, the Eagles will have a weakness on offense this year: Passes thrown to #1 WRs. The match-up of Stallworth (or Brown) vs. the other teams #1 CB should be favorable to the defense. But the Eagles will still have an above-average passing offense due to good matchups for their 2nd-4th receivers. This puts more pressure on McNabb, since he'll have to recognize the matchups and throw a lot of passes to the 3rd/4th options on a play.

So ... the question is: How good are the Giants 2nd and 3rd Corners, and their 2nd best pass defender at either LB or Safety? Because that will be the pass defense that really matters vs. the Eagles.

by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:48pm

Re #8: If I'm reading this right: "We start two RBs and have two reciever/tight end slots and one wr/rb slot. My WRs are Holt, S. Moss, Driver, Wilford and Engram with Ben Watson as my TE", then you don't have to start a tight end, and you shouldn't. Start Holt, S. Moss and Driver. Ben Watson may masquerade as a #1 WR, but he's still less likely to rack up yardage than those other guys. As for the runningbacks, I agree with #14- Go with Blaylock and Jerious Norwood.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:50pm

Okay, fantasy question. I have Doug Gabriel warming the pine on my fantasy team, but have a chance to pick up Deion Branch. Should I pull the trigger? It costs $7 of real money too for each transaction.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 3:03pm

sign that the apocalypse is upon us: the Packers are a home dog to the Saints

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 3:09pm

#23 - Every team does have a weakness, that's exactly what my sentence implied.

Furthermore, there's no reason to think the Eagles pass offense will be anything significantly above average this season, especially this early as Stallworth breaks into this system. That is, outside of one game against the Texans. That is a shaky bandwagon to jump on.

I also fail to see how saying the Eagles offense will be their weakness is more specific than saying their passing offense is.

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 3:22pm

Question: W/T slot this week: Bennett or Winslow?

by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 3:34pm

I know you say Branch isn't worth starting this week, but what if the other option is Joe Horn (pr, I guess, Michael Jenkins)?

Also, McNair vs. Raiders, or Hasselbeck?

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 3:44pm

Re:29... Hasselbeck vs. AZ... defintiely Hasselbeck.

by ElJefe (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 3:45pm

Re: #27

You fail to see it because that's not what I wrote. I wrote "the Eagles will have a weakness on offense this year: Passes thrown to #1 WRs" ... which is a rather specific statement.

It is a weakness because most defenses can easily take away one of the Eagles' WRs, a potentially exploitable situation allowing the defense to commit more resources to, say, also stopping Brian Westbrook in the passing game.

Yeah, it's parsing the language, but simply being the lesser of two statistical measures does not a weakness make. Was Indianapolis' running game a weakness in 2005 because it was "only" top-10 in the league, compared to their passing offenses #1 ranking?

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 3:49pm

My bad on misreading your statemnt.

Indianapolis' rush offense would be, in that case, their weakness - a statement I'm comfortable making precisely because it's more likely to be exploited by other teams. The Eagles having the seventeenth-best passing offense in the league isn't necessarily a weakness when you compare them to the 49ers, but when you look at them compared to quality teams, it becomes one.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 3:58pm

I wasn't sure whether Barlow would be healthy enough to take away some of those carries, but I'll go ahead and start Blaylock.

So, everyone agrees that I don't have good enough RBs to use one instead of a WR? Therefore I'll have Norwood, Blaylock, Holt, S. Moss and Driver out there. At least I have viable options at every position but RB.

by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 4:11pm

#25: The $7 is up to you, but I certainly think that in a few weeks Branch will have far more value than Gabriel.#28: Drew Bennett; Cleveland will be lucky to score much at Cincinnati#29: I'd start both Joe Horn and Michael Jenkins above Branch this week. None are great options, though I'd likely go with Horn. Oh, and never start Steve McNair over Matt Hasselbeck.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 4:46pm

Ian, on #25, why?

All of the negatives for Gabriel, are the same for branch. (IE new system, etc). Gabriel is going into a system where he will be the #1, and theres little depth. Branch is going into a situation where theres a ton of depth, and hes very likely to only have a small role.

(not arguing that branch isnt a better reciever), but generally a #1 is worth more than a #4, no matter the team.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 4:48pm

Re: 31

That's assuming that Stallworth/Brown shake out to definitive #1 and #2 reciever roles. I think the much more likely outcome is going to be a #1a and #1b situation. Where any given Sunday you just won't know who the primary target is going to be.

by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 5:11pm

Seattle wouldn't trade a first rounder for Deion Branch to be a #3 or #4 wideout. He will likely ascend into sharing #1 status with Darrell Jackson in 3 or 4 weeks. He's also proven himself as a top-notch wideout, as opposed to Doug Gabriel, who only had a few good games late last season. Gabriel's a big wild card. Who knows how much playing time he'll get? Tom Brady said on the radio a few weeks back that the Patriots offense is a very complicated one. There's no guarantee that Gabriel will be successful in it.
That being said, it's also quite possible that Gabriel could light a spark in the passing game, and turn out to be a big factor for both the Patriots and fantasy teams. I'm just saying that it's much more certain that Branch will play a big role with Seattle than it is that Gabriel will play a big role with New England.

by Nilblog (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 5:32pm

As a Vikings fan, it's weird to not live in mortal fear of teams coached by men such as John Fox. In the era of that meaty disastermind Tice, Fox would routinely make our boys look like rice. I don't refer to the famously sub-mediocre Rice Owl collegiate football program, but rather literally grains of rice. If you gave 53 individual rice grains mouthpieces, helmets, shoulderpads, and several millions of dollars apiece, they'd play about as well as the Vikings did against well-coached clubs the last few years, and on the plus side none would walk off the field prematurely. I'm not saying Childress yet has my thorough confidence, but I expect them to be very competitive against a Panthers team that's going to be angry and maybe even a little desperate for a win. And that's novel.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 6:05pm

Re: Ian
He’s also proven himself as a top-notch wideout, as opposed to Doug Gabriel, who only had a few good games late last season.

I think what you meant to say is that Branch has proven himself as a top 20ish wideout (DPAR: 12th-2005, 35th-2004, 14th-2003, 54th-2002) with Tom Brady throwing to him, as opposed to Doug Gabriel, who only had a few good games late last season as the 3rd WR on an abismal Oakland team with Kerry Collins at QB.

My point is, you pretty much already know what Branch is going to get you. I find it had to believe that his production is going to take a huge leap forward changing between practically equivelant passing offenses (NE was 3rd in 2005, Seattle was 4th). So if that's good enough for you, then I'd jump at Branch. But if you're a gambling man, Garbiel clearly has more potential for improvement.

by compucrazy (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 6:10pm

Ok a couple fantasy questions. Would you rather start Willie parker against the Jacksonville D or Frank Gore and the niners vs. St. Louis. Not sure because Parker gets more carries via being a steeler, (and I happen to be a Steelers fan) But Gore has an easier matchup and did much better in week one. Also my QB situation is Matt Hasselbeck or Brett Favre, which would be safer to start this week?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 6:16pm

#38, I don't want to go overboard defending Tice, but the Vikings coaching woes in the last few years extended well beyond his shortcomings, which is where I think FO's projected wins for the Vikings (5.9) went wrong. The previous ownership made it impossible to have any continuity with coordinators; they either had to hire talented guys who were gone as soon as they got their temporary setbacks worked out (George O'Leary), talented young guys who were soon gone for larger paychecks (Scott Linehan), or untalented guys who would work at below market rates (Ted Cottrel). This is the best staff the Vikings have had since Green was head coach, and Dungy and Billick were coordinators, and this team likely has more talent than that squad.

Now, Aaron may end up being correct about the Vikings; the more I read his commentary, the more it seems that a large part of his Viking projection is based upon injury predictions, and I 've never read where he has explained the process of how he predicts injuries, and what value he assigns injury prediction when running his simulated games. Prior to the season's start, I cited injuries as to be the most likely reason the Vikings would fail to match last year's nine wins, so I had some areas of agreement with him.

So far, however, the Vikings seem to be getting better injury luck than their opponents, or at least no worse luck. I just read where lb Dan Morgan, a key piece to the Panther's defense, is going to miss Sunday's game, and their starting center is listed as questionable. Given Smith's questionable status, and the Panthers' ot on the ir list, and I like the Vikings' chances better all the time.

by billvv (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 6:34pm

Is there a loser league for "guys picking losers." I'd like to get every guy who dumped on Pennington!

by Mitch Cumstein (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 7:28pm

Okay, just received a trade offer, and want advice. I have been offered WR Chris Chambers and RB Fred Taylor for RB Frank Gore.

Two things about this 12-team league. First, WR/TE's get 1 pt per reception on top of yards(but not RB's), so WR's are relatively more valuable in this league. Second, it is an auction keeper league with next year's prices set by 1) the player's draft value this year, or if free agent, $ amount equal to week of pick up, and 2) an increase in dollars similar to VBD, for points scored over baseline at that position (example: LJ went up +$13 last year, Cadillac went up +$4).

I'm fairly running back rich and weak at WR. Starting lineup is RB-WR-WR-TE and 2 FLEX (RB/WR/TE). Here are my current starters and top backups, with prices for this year:

QB Palmer $8
RB Tomlinson $39
RB Cadillac $8
RB Gore $3
RB Maroney $6
WR D. Jackson $9
WR Branch $6
WR Wilford $2
WR Jenkins $2
WR Cotchery $2
TE Witten $6
TE Winslow $1

I think this is a deal I make, but wanted thoughts. I can understand the other guy wanting Gore at a cheap price, for both this year and next, but I have RB value galore, still get a veteran for this year, and get a #1 WR. I guess, talk me out of it.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 7:43pm

Philadelphia’s rushing DVOA has been higher than its passing DVOA every year of the Reid era.

Bill: You're actually wrong on that.

The only reason that was true in 2005 was Mike McMahon: early in the season, the pass DVOA was much, much higher than the rush DVOA. It wasn't until Mike McMahon came in that the pass DVOA fell apart. The rush DVOA always sucked, but the offensive line by the end of the season was actually better than the beginning, so it ended up better.

In 2004, though, it wasn't true. Philly's pass DVOA was 18.5%, rush DVOA was 9.0%.

Besides, Philly's effectiveness passing isn't really important. Their proclivity of passing (they still passed at a 70/30 pace in the first half vs the Texans) is. Even if Philly's passing offense is average, they're targeting a weak passing defense, and will have better success than expected.

by weinsteinium (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 7:44pm

Fantasy question. I have to start 3 WR:
Anquan Boldin vs SEA
Donald Driver vs NO
Derrick Mason vs OAK
Eric Moulds vs IND

I considered Boldin my star WR but it seems likely that the seahawks will be in backfield all day and Moulds might have more value (especially since HOU will fall behind quickly).

by weinsteinium (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 8:08pm

#40 I'd start Gore. The 49ers seem committed to the run (if only to take the pressure off Alex Smith) and the Rams gave up a lot of yards to Denver.

And start Hasselback against the cards. They gave up almost 300 yards passing to the 49ers.

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 8:13pm

#40: I'd start Gore. STL didn't look great against Denver, Gore looked good and will likely see the ball a bit, and it's at SF. If it was at STL, I'd go with Parker. Also, I suspect someone may steal Parker's TDs. And start Hass! Hass was 25/30. Eventually, some of those passes will be TDs. And he's going against Arizona - do you seriously think that SF and Alex Smith is going to be better than Hass?

#45: you have to go with Boldin. He's a stud and a starter every week pretty much. I'd go with Mason as well - McNair will likely murder him.

Driver or Moulds though? That's tougher. Indy's pass D looked solid against NYG, and it's not like Moulds is tall and can do the tip drill like Burress can. Driver may be the only target Favre has, but with green bay...who knows? I'd probably go with Driver.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 8:14pm

Furthermore, there’s no reason to think the Eagles pass offense will be anything significantly above average this season, especially this early as Stallworth breaks into this system.

Stallworth's job in Philly's offense isn't exactly complicated. "Run deep, young man." That's the entire idea. It's not surprising that he had such an apparently easy time adjusting. There's likely not a huge amount for him to learn.

As for "there's no reason to believe Philly's pass offense will be significantly above average"? Sure there is. Houston's pass defense would have to be beyond horrendous for Philly's performance to be average - that is, it would have to be significantly worse than last year's, and last year they were pretty bloody bad.

Philly's pass offense might not necessarily be the league's best (but I'm not saying it won't be), but as I mentioned above, it doesn't have to be. It's still above average, and they're attacking a below average passing defense, and they'll target that passing defense more than normal. This is not a good matchup for them. It is, in fact, a particularly bad one.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 8:17pm

YAFQ, on backup QB's:

Scoring for QB's is 6/TD, 1/25yds, no bonuses. Brady is my starter. I have Brunell as my backup. Pennington is available. Is it worth swapping backups?

by JC (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 8:51pm

I need some help with my starters for the week. 2 RB, 3 WR 1 QB. 10 team league, 1 point/ 10 yards rec/rush; 1 point/ 50 yards passing; 6 for all TDs.
RB: LJ, Westbrook, Gore
WR: Harrison, S. Moss, Muhammad, Jenkins, Wilford
QB: Hasselbeck, Vick, Carr

Right now I am leaning towards this as my lineup:
RB: LJ, Westbrook
WR: Harrison, S. Moss, Muhammad
QB: Vick

Thoughts or comments?

by Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 8:52pm

I'm sorry, did you just say the Eagles' weakness is "pass offense"? You realize that McNabb threw for 314 and three touchdowns while Donte Stallworth had 164 yards receiving and a TD, right? That is generally considered "pass offense," yes?

by David (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 9:06pm

Against the Texans, though.

I agree that calling it their weakness is jumping the gun by a lot, but the three best passing performances of the day were against the three teams with 2005's worst passing defenses. Coincidence? I think not.

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 10:34pm

Pat - I meant by rank, not pure DVOA on the Eagles rush O being > their passing O. I should have clarified.

As for the comments about the Eagles' system, I mean, I could be totally wrong. Stallworth could become a fantastic deep threat. Reggie Brown could take a giant leap forward. Greg Lewis could - like I said in the surprises section - catch 80 balls. Anything's POSSIBLE. What's likely? Stallworth will continue to be the mediocre receiver he is (look at his DVOA since '02!), Reggie Brown could take a tiny step forward like he most likely will, and Greg Lewis can be a disappointment. And the Eagles passing offense will finish somewhere between 12th and 20th, like it has almost every year under Andy Reid, and I'd be right.

The people who cite the Week 1 performance as a sign that the Eagles passing performance are great, if they perform like that against a remotely competent pass defense, I'll eat my words. Until then, there's more reason to think it was the awful Houston defense IMO.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 11:45pm

Philly's pass and rush offense in 2004 were probably roughly equivalent in rank, but the pass offense was likely higher. The pass offense took a nosedive the last two games, and they practically didn't run at all those games, so the effect on the pass offense is much larger.

In 2005, though, the only reason that was true was due to Mike McMahon.

You kindof missed the second part of what I was saying, though. It doesn't matter if Philly's pass offense only ends up being average or slightly above average. Philly will still pass 70% of the time when ahead, and run 30% of the time.

If rushing defense is New York's strength, Philly will completely avoid it by rarely running the ball. And Philly is not incompetent at passing, so they can take advantage of this easily.

Stallworth will continue to be the mediocre receiver he is (look at his DVOA since ‘02!)

I'm missing something: his DVOA has been (rounding to the nearest 5%) 25%, 0%, 0%, 5% in the past 4 years. That's not mediocre. That's "well above replacement."

Know what Terrell Owens's DVOA was in San Francisco his last year? 0.7%. It's easy to marginalize a good receiver with either a bad quarterback or a bad role in the system.

And the Eagles passing offense will finish somewhere between 12th and 20th, like it has almost every year under Andy Reid, and I’d be right.

Your previous statement would probably be right, but your statement in the article wouldn't. I don't see how having an average passing offense can be considered a team's weakness, unless you're one of the best teams in football!

by Minsane (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 12:13am

#43, I don't think you gave cap values for Taylor and Chambers, if that makes a difference. Don't know how your scoring system shakes out exactly, but here are my thoughts:

1) Fred Taylor is close to useless for you. I definitely wouldn't start him over LT2 or Cadillac, and probably not over Maroney or your 3rd WR either, frankly, to the extent that Taylor seems in the decline phase of his career. Factor in the fact that he's more of an injury risk than Gore, and I'd say he's pretty close to zero value here.

2) Question would be whether Chambers for Gore is worth it from a net points standpoint. I think yes, but I think it's pretty debatable (again without knowing the format of your system). Gore appears likely to be a receiving target as well, and it doesn't seem crazy to think he'll get something like 2/3 of the catches Chambers gets, which cuts into Chambers' value.

3) I think the reason to trade Gore would be because either: a) you think he's an injury risk; or b) you think he's overvalued after his great performance against a crappy run defense in Arizona. If a), then I'd say consider the above points on Taylor's injury risk. If b), I'd say you should at least consider other options. Gore seems to have a lot of trade value right now. I personally think Chambers has more value than Gore, but I think a lot of people would disagree with that, and so I think it's possible you can get more for him, especially at a cheap price.

by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 1:28am

Well above replacement is a little much. He was in the forties for DVOA each season since '02. That's not replacement level, but it's middle-of-the-pack #2 receiver. Those aren't hard to find, nor are they guys who suddenly break out and become stud receivers.

Those last two games in '04 still count, so you can't just wish them away. I'm pretty sure Aaron gets rid of or minimizes the effect of Week 17 games in seasonal DVOA, though.

Here is the simplest reason why I say it's their weakness - you explained it reasonably well for me, actually. The Eagles' best asset offensively is their ability to run the ball - whether Andy Reid decides that they should run 35% of the time or not. The Giants' strength at run defense prevents them from doing this with significant effectiveness. This leads to a situation with the Eagles' passing offense, the weaker of the two, facing the Giants passing defense, also the weaker of the two. The fact that the Giants are also weak at this facet of the game cannot be exploited by the Eagles team because they're relatively equal in ability, me thinks. Without being able to exploit this defense weakness, the Eagles then find it more difficult to score points. This gives them a decreased chance of winning the game.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 2:41am

Well above replacement is a little much.

Replacement level = -13.3% DVOA. It's quite a bit above replacement level. In fact, 0% DVOA is "league average." Those guys are hard to find. If they weren't, there wouldn't be a dropoff when they get injured.

As for those guys never turning into stud receivers? I don't see what you mean there - players who are mediocre under a poor QB, who then suddenly get much better with a better QB? That's happened plenty of times.

I’m pretty sure Aaron gets rid of or minimizes the effect of Week 17 games in seasonal DVOA, though.

I don't know why I can't ignore those two games if I'm trying to describe the 2004 Eagles, because those games weren't really played by the 2004 Eagles. That team was decidedly better at passing than at running. By far. Likewise, in 2005, again, that team would've been much, much better at passing than running (My God, would they have been better!) had Mike McMahon not come in.

Anyway, Aaron didn't at the time, though that notably could've changed since then in "DVOA v5.0".

The Eagles’ best asset offensively is their ability to run the ball - whether Andy Reid decides that they should run 35% of the time or not.

That presumes that the reason that their ability to run the ball effectively isn't because they run the ball only 30-40% of the time.

The fact that the Giants are also weak at this facet of the game cannot be exploited by the Eagles team because they’re relatively equal in ability, me thinks.

Then you don't think the pass defense is a weakness for the Giants. It's just that simple.

You're trying to have it both ways - saying "Philly can't exploit the Giants weak passing defense because they're not that good of a pass offense, and they're not that good of a pass offense because they only exploited a weak passing defense."

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 4:21am

This is I my first year trying loser league and I can't seem to the results from week 1. What's the link? I forgot who my #3 WR was ;o)

by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 10:06am

There's a dropoff between them and replacement-level, but the market for those sort of receivers isn't a seller's one, I guess was what I was implying.

As for those guys never turning into stud receivers? I don’t see what you mean there - players who are mediocre under a poor QB, who then suddenly get much better with a better QB? That’s happened plenty of times.

The same QB who was better than McNabb in 2003 and one spot below him in '05?

I don’t know why I can’t ignore those two games if I’m trying to describe the 2004 Eagles, because those games weren’t really played by the 2004 Eagles.

So, if a team was getting blown out by the Eagles in Week 8 and started working in second-team defensive players, does that not count as part of the '04 Eagles season?

That presumes that the reason that their ability to run the ball effectively isn’t because they run the ball only 30-40% of the time.

True, Pat, but we have to say that for everything when it comes to football. If the Eagles ran the ball 60% of the time for a similar-sized sample and performed poorer, then we could say with some confidence that it's because they run the ball 30-40% of the time.

You’re trying to have it both ways - saying “Philly can’t exploit the Giants weak passing defense because they’re not that good of a pass offense, and they’re not that good of a pass offense because they only exploited a weak passing defense.�

I don't think so although my mediocrity as a writer might be portraying it that way.

The best way I can describe it is this - if the Eagles offense is playing a poor Giants defense, there's maybe a 90% chance that the Eagles can exploit that to win.

If the Eagles offense and Giants defense are equal, there's a 50% chance either of them could be exploiting the other.

If that makes any sense?

I think we might end up agreeing to disagree on this. Remember, I'm a Giants homer.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 10:48am

Bill, I think this is the point Pat's trying to make. There's a very good chance that 70% of Philadelphia's offensive plays will be attacking NY's secondary. So the question here is how much of a difference you believe there is between the Eagles' passing offense and the Giants' passing defense. It really doesn't matter how good either of the units are compared to the league-wide average. Even if Philly's passing offense only ends up being between 12th and 20th in the league, that's still a stronger unit than NY's secondary. So on 70% of Philly's offensive plays Philly will be utilizing a unit that is stronger than their opposition.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 11:49am

I'm in a league where receptions are 1 pt, 10 yds receiving is 1 pt, and a TD is 6 pts. I need to play 4 of these 5 WR:
Antonio Bryant vs STL
Chris Chambers vs BUF
Mushin Muhammed vs DET
Reggie Williams vs PIT
Eddie Kennison @ DEN
Should the odd man out be Kennison because of the fact that Huard is throwing to him? Or Williams because he's facing the Steelers D?

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 11:57am

Bill Barnwell #59:

The same QB who was better than McNabb in 2003 and one spot below him in ‘05?

These type of comments are all about context. McNabb was playing injured at the start of the 2003 season, with I believe an injured thumb or finger in his throwing hand. Once he was healthy, he played fantastic in the last 10 games of the season and the first playoff game before being injured again in the NFC Championship. In fact, his performance in those last 11 games of 2003 is statistically indistinguishable from his performance in the first 14 games of 2004 and the 2004 playoffs. So to start saying Aaron Brooks was a better QB, I mean, come on. Get real man. The only reason Aaron Brooks was looking good was because for one year, and one year only, he suddenly wasn't fumbling and throwing interceptions.

So, if a team was getting blown out by the Eagles in Week 8 and started working in second-team defensive players, does that not count as part of the ‘04 Eagles season?

Maybe you don't understand. After the first series in the St. Louis game (where McNabb and Levens marched down the field and scored a TD), the stars - McNabb, Owens, Westbrook, Kearse, Dawkins, Shepperd, Chad Lewis, etc. didn't touch the field again until the Vikings playoff game. It wasn't like the Eagles were getting beaten by the Rams and Bengals, so they pulled the starters to protect them. Rather, they deactivated them or held them in reserve and never let them touch the field. That's why we keep saying the games shouldn't be lumped in with the other games as indicative of the 2004 squads performance.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 12:36pm

So on 70% of Philly’s offensive plays Philly will be utilizing a unit that is stronger than their opposition.

Ding ding. That's right. It's true Philly probably won't be as good against the Giants as, say, the Colts, but that doesn't really matter. The Colts are a very bad matchup for the Giants. The Eagles are still a bad matchup, because they have a pass offense which is at least effective (league average or better than league average), and the Giants have a pass defense which is a little suspect (below league average or worse than league average). And moreso, Philly will be marginalizing the strength of the Giants defense by not running at them.

Of course, this assumes that we're dopey and don't actually look at the breakdown of the pass coverage for the Giants. New York's real weakness was the deeper passing game - RBs and TEs coverage was above average. That hurts Philly a bit, considering their RB and TE passing is clearly the best part of their passing game.

But a good matchup for New York wouldn't be a team like Philly. It'd be a team like Chicago or Atlanta.

by Adam B. (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 1:26pm

David H: Start Kennison, bench Williams. With a week's worth of work with the first-string offense, Huard's bound to find his #1 WR occasionally.

Pick a QB, in a league where I'm much better at RB/WR than this . . . .
Plummer v KC
Carr @ Ind
A. Smith v StL

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 2:07pm

There’s a dropoff between them and replacement-level, but the market for those sort of receivers isn’t a seller’s one, I guess was what I was implying.

Incidentally, I don't think that's true. Teams don't usually get rid of players like that. Here's what I mean by "players like that": Stallworth has never been significantly negative in DVOA. He's been slightly positive once, and significantly positive once. Other players similar to that in the past 4 years:

Ashley Lelie
Terry Glenn
Darrell Jackson
Steve Smith (DVOA before 2005: DNP, 5.6%, 0.6%, 0.2%)

That's... not a bad list. It'd be interesting to see Stallworth's list of most similar players. Steve Smith is an interesting comparable there, because his stats in 2003 were good, but not stellar: 88 for 1110 yards. That's not significantly different than Stallworth's 70 for 945 yards.

The fact that Stallworth has never had a significantly negative (less than -5%) DVOA puts him in very good company.

by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 2:15pm

I'd be interested in seeing Stallworth's comparables, actually.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 2:26pm

Pat: your point about similar players is well-made. You should be wary of mixing conventional and FO stats in your arguement, however- they rarely serve the same purposes.

Similarity analysis would be cool for Stallworth, in any case.

by rjh (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 2:27pm

what ever happened to the 'sports doc guy' that speculated on player's injuries and their ability to rehab succesfully, or not. i'm positive this is not the place to leave a general comment on the site but i couldn't find a better venue.
thanks and keep up the good work.

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 3:12pm

while there’s no current bonus system in place for Loser League, you should really get points for having a player end a game with multiple receptions and, somehow, negative receiving yards.

Exactly right. Chris Cooley, come get your prize. He should've dropped that ball on purpose.

by David (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 5:03pm

what ever happened to the ’sports doc guy’ that speculated on player’s injuries and their ability to rehab succesfully, or not. i’m positive this is not the place to leave a general comment on the site but i couldn’t find a better venue.

Will Carroll, author of the Black And Blue Report column, now writes for ESPN Insider. Apparently FO decided not to continue the feature rather than hand it off to a new writer.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 5:07pm

You should be wary of mixing conventional and FO stats in your arguement, however- they rarely serve the same purposes.

Yeah, I know. But if you look at his DVOA/DPAR that year, it's similar to Stallworth's - it's like 3% versus 5%. Of course, Smith lacked a year between 2005 and 2004, of course, but Smith is definitely one of the "receivers with average DVOA, but not bad, for several years in the league, and then suddenly becomes a stud" type that Bill said didn't exist. :)

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 5:48pm

I've got a pretty tough 'who should I start' question at WR. I can start two of the following WRs:
Larry Fitzgerald (@Sea)
Chris Chambers (Buf)
Derrick Mason (Oak)
Muhsin Muhammad (Det)

The toughest matchup is Fitz, but there's no way I'm playing matchup games with a stud (especially when it's only week 2). So that leaves one spot for three guys all playing on the road against teams who shouldn't look as good as they did in Week 1 (well, except for Oakland of course).

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 6:01pm

Muhammad has potential to be good or terrible- depends on which hands he brings to the stadium. Sit him.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 6:09pm

Oh, btw, I'm starting McNair at QB (over Bledsoe), so that might make Mason a little more tempting. Mmm...double points...ahhh...

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 7:00pm

re: 72, 74

CHI offense against possibly resurgent DET defense? Too much uncertainty there. I agree, sit Moose.

Chambers/Mason is tougher. Both scored the same in my league last week. I'm a Pats fan, so take that into account, but I see OAK's defense being slightly worse than BUF's, so I'd be tempted by Mason. But I'd yield my choice to anyone with more specific info on how each one is going to be used in the games.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 7:02pm

Oh, since my question got overrun by the Eagles pass offense discusion, here it is again:

YAFQ, on backup QB’s:

Scoring for QB’s is 6/TD, 1/25yds, no bonuses. Brady is my starter. I have Brunell as my backup. Pennington is available. Is it worth swapping backups?

by MR (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 7:08pm

any thoughts on a proposal to move J Addai and M Jones-Drew (to a F Taylor owner) for L Jordan?

by Joon (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 7:28pm

dumb question maybe, but are loser league standings for week 1 posted anywhere?

by weinsteinium (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 8:06pm

RB Question in a PPR league:
ESPN's projections are really high on Lawrence Maroney.
Should I start him against the Jets
or Chester Taylor against the Panthers

by David (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 8:07pm

Scoring for QB’s is 6/TD, 1/25yds, no bonuses. Brady is my starter. I have Brunell as my backup. Pennington is available. Is it worth swapping backups?

Based just on week 1, I'd keep Brunell. Pennington plays behind a suspect offensive line and is a substantial injury risk. A solid performance against the Titans isn't nearly enough to offset those concerns.

by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 8:36pm

#79: Start Taylor vs the Panthers. They couldn't stop the rush at all last week, Minnesota loves running. Maroney won't even get all the carries in NE, and the Jets looked much better against the run.

#72: I really like Mason in that matchup, but I think you have to go with Chambers. Daunte's #1 target has to get wild & crazy at some point, and against Buffalo with Springs gone? Heck, Kevin Faulk ran a go route against Buffalo. I expect Jamal Lewis to get a ton of reps, but the receivers might not so much.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 9:00pm

"Looks like RBBC... Smells like RBBC... Tastes like RBBC... Good thing we didn't step in it!" With apologies to Cheech and Chong, that's what NE looks like, so I'd step over Maroney and take Taylor, who appears to be a clear number one.

by Peter (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 9:07pm

So I'm interested by this weakness discussion... my thought is that if you are average or above average at something, it should never be described as a weakness. Particularly if we're dealing with something so broad as pass or run, since almost every team has an uneven distribution, even if both are above average... maybe if you're below average at deep passing, or RB/TE catching, something like that.

I realize that the Pass O is lower than Run O comment was based on ranking, but if it's value over average, doesn't that indicate that the larger raw number DOES mean that it's better than most? If a smaller number (9% in 2004) is a higher ranking (6) than a larger one (18.5% at #10), doesn't that really indicate that there's a narrower distribution of "goodness" at running? If so, really the Philly pass offense was much more significant in comparison to the average team, even if there were more extremely awesome pass attacks.

I would also question whether DVOA is the best tool to use in such a strange situation as the Philly offense. I realize there's no DPAR here, but the reason DPAR was created was so players who provide value just by playing so many snaps (and thus being gameplanned around) can be represented even if their DVOA wasn't that great (like McGahee). In an offense that passes as often as Philly does, don't most teams respond to that and spread out/play nickel? I mean I can see how Westbrook might have great rushing DVOA because he only runs when the defense is thinking pass. Maybe DVOA corrects for this?

by TBW (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 9:11pm

Re 56: I think the confusion here is one of relative vs absolute.

Let me use an absurd example to illustrate. Using 2005 DVOA, imagine a Seattle-San Fran matchup. SF's defensive strength is run defense, and Seattle's offensive strength is running. According to Bill, this doesn't bode well for Seattle. Looking a little deeper at the DVOA rankings, SF is 30th in rushing D, and 32nd in pass D. Seattle is 3rd in rushing offense and 4th in pass D. Sure Seattle's strength is matched up against SF's "strength" but it seems pretty clear this is irrelevant because in absolute terms Seattle is vastly superior both running and passing.

The Eagles/Giants game is obviously not so cut and dried, but I think the point is still valid. It matters not that the Eagles passing game might be a little worse than their running game, and that they won't have that relative strength matched up against the Giants relative weakness. What matters is if the Eagles passing game is better than the Giants passing D, and if the Eagles running game is better than the Giants running D.

by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 10:05pm

Andrew - I should have said his DVOA was better. I think McNabb is better, to be honest, but Brooks does get a tad of a bad rap around here for making very blatant mistakes. He CAN be effective.

Pat - I'll certainly grant you the Stallworth point - in hindsight, without having seen his comparables, I was wrong about that . Are those the only four guys who match up with Stallworth's numbers, though?

TBW - I understand what you're saying with the Seattle/SF comparison but while the Eagles' passing game is in the 12-20 range, I'm inclined to think the Giants' pass defense (when you consider the effect the pass rush has, not strictly the secondary) is in the same area. I don't think the Eagles passing game, measured absolutely against the Giants pass defense, can be expected to be better. Could it happen? Sure, it could. But on the other hand, it's not the Seattle-San Francisco matchup where the absolute diffence will result in the Seahawks winning that battle 90% of the time.

I'm really looking forward to this game now. I'm going to be sitting there yelling at every incomplete pass "SEE READERS! I TOLD YOU! USELESS!!!" :)

by o (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 10:54pm

Got a dog's breakfast of RB choices this week (and perhaps this season)...

PPR, start two:

Jordan (@Bal)
Kevin Jones (@Chi)
Maroney (@NYJ)
Addai (Hou)

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 11:21pm

Pat - I’ll certainly grant you the Stallworth point - in hindsight, without having seen his comparables, I was wrong about that . Are those the only four guys who match up with Stallworth’s numbers, though?

From a cursory glance (and that includes looking for duds, too) that's pretty much it, and none of those are tremendously good examples, either. Stallworth had a good rookie year (but I don't put much stock in that) then a decent (but worse than rookie) second year, about the same third year, and a better fourth year. If you look at it in conventional terms, if you ignore the first year, he's shown steady improvement in number of catches and yards.

There aren't a lot of busts with that kind of performance - not a lot of WRs can consistently perform for 4 years in the NFL if they're not good receivers at all. There are a fair number of guys that putter around at 0% for a few years and then really step up after a bit, though. Not a lot, but a fair amount. Probably add Hines Ward and Eddie Kennison to that list, as well.

Actually, I can only really find one bust: Peerless Price, and the difference between him and Stallworth is that Price was really not that good his second year (by DVOA). Stallworth has never been that bad. Maybe David Patten as well, but Patten played progressively worse as his workload stepped up from 2000-2002, whereas Stallworth played better.

I’m inclined to think the Giants’ pass defense (when you consider the effect the pass rush has, not strictly the secondary) is in the same area.

Well, then, it's not much of a weakness! I have a difficult time calling something a weakness if it's above average. :)

by Rick (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 12:31am

Longtime Eagles fan, living in NYC, married into a Giants family. I've seen every game for the last 15 years. I've hashed out the strengths/weaknesses with the family for 15 years.

The difference, in the last 7-8 years, in EVERY game the Giants have BEATEN the Eagles in, has been screen passes. The run sets up passing that the Eagles cover extremely well, opening screens up that the Eagles don't cover well.

IF the Giants are going to win, they will be doing this, and the Eagles will give up 5-10 yards per screen (if not more). But I'm guessing that the Eagles have got that under control now and the Giants will be forced to run almost exclusively.

Manning gets shaky under pressure, and I expect that IF the Eagles get to him alot and early, he'll throw 2-3 interceptions. If not, Tiki is going to have a monster game both receiving AND running. He'll need alot of oxygen. (Is it me, or has he, naturally, lost a step? He got caught from behind 3 times last year on long runs that he'd typically turn into TDs.)

McNabb is an excellent passer plagued with 2 problems - occasional inaccuracy, but more importantly DROPPED PASSES up the wazoo. His mediocre receiving corps over the years has prevented him from being the #2 (behind Peyton) QB. Stallworth is not TO, but he's as close to a TO as you'll get without the attitude. He has yet to have a decent QB toss the ball to him, save last week. Albeit against a weak passing D.

Giants in a close one? I think home field plays a big role here. I think "something to prove" for the Eagles plays a big role here. I think going 2-0 and setting the tone plays a big role here.

I'm not going to predict an outcome, since that tends to work against me come game time. But I really like the Eagles chances this year, much more than last year (obvious), but also 2 years ago.

Thing is...it's the second week. Anything can happen. How's Osi doing? He HAS to be healthy for the Giants to have a shot.

by dbt (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 12:55am

Anybody want to give me advice on a 2nd WR? Santonio Holmes, Eddie Kennison or Braylon Edwards. 10 rec yds/pt, 20 ret yds/pt, 6/td, 5 pt bonus for 100 yards receiving...

by Bill Barnwell :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 12:58am

Addai and Maroney.


by Gil (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 1:06am

Which three WR to start out of

Darrell Jackson (ARI)
Joey Galloway (@ATL)
Rod Smith (KC)
Mushin Muhammad (DET)

I was leaning towards benching Galloway but most cheatsheets say Mushin should be benched. Any thoughts?

Re 86: I'd stick with Jordan and Jones despite the tough matchups. They will get many more touches, although Maroney over Jones would be tempting.

by TBW (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 1:58am

One more Giants/Eagles note. Last time Giants came to Philly was Week 14 last year. The Eagles were missing Westbrook, TO, McNabb and I'm sure some others. Giants won 26-23 in OT. If Mike McMahon, Reggie Brown and Ryan Moats could almost beat the Giants in the middle of a drive for the playoffs, what will McNabb, Westbrook and Stallworth do to them on Sunday ? To be fair, I have no idea who the Giants might have been missing for that game,and it's certainly possible that the Eagles almost caught the Giants looking past them to a big game the next week, something that won't happen this time around.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 10:17am

Re: #77

I see Addai getting the lion's share of the carries by midseason. The Raiders are terrible, so I'm not sure how much Jordan's going to put up.

by Bill Barnwell :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 10:17am


by stchoo (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 11:08am

When will the loser league standings be posted?

by Adam B. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 11:12am

86: Jordan and Addai.

89: Kennison. Huard's had a week to work with the first team.

91: I'd bench Galloway, but it's a close call.

My question, repeated, because I need to use one of these QBs:
Plummer v KC
Carr @ Ind
A. Smith v StL

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 12:31pm

Re: 96

Carr is the obvious bench (especially considering your other options). I may actually lean towards Alex Smith. You don't really know how Plummer is going to react to all the QB controversy hype in the media. Plus, there's the 'rally around the backup' factor for KC. StL on the other hand is coming off a huge win (well, as huge as a week 1 win can be anyway).

by NoJo (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 1:54pm

Adam B:
Plummer. I wouldn't read too much into last week's performance - I would expect him to be the same QB he's been for the past couple of years.

by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 2:29pm

Does anybody know where I can find a listing of the final point spreads for every NFL game in 2005?

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 2:34pm

98: Plummer in 2004 27 TD 21 TO. Plummer in 2005: 18 TD 8 TO. Which Plummer are we expecting to show up this year?

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 3:05pm

Out of Plummer, Carr, and A. Smith, I agree, sit Carr. It's close, but I think I'd pick Plummer as well, since KC's D looks worse than STL's. Only danger to me is how often will Plummer actually end up throwing.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 3:29pm

Ok, just when I thought I was definitely going to go with Mason here's the little blurb that CBS Sportsline puts up on Chambers.

Chris Chambers, WR MIA

News: The last time Miami played Buffalo, the Dolphins overcame a 20-point second-half deficit behind the play of WR Chris Chambers. He caught a franchise-record 15 passes for 238 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown. Chambers has a TD catch in four of his last six games against the Bills.

Analysis: Chambers is a must-start in all Fantasy leagues this week.

by NoJo (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 3:59pm

Re: 100
In most fantasy leagues, 27 TD / 21 TO and 18 TD / 8 TO aren't all that different point-wise. What I meant was: reasonably consistent - rarely horrible and rarely spectacular.

by Jake (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 3:59pm

I'm not sure if Brad Johnson is the might Game Manager he's expected to be. He threw 21 picks in 04. Only 4(?) last year, but that 21 scares me.

by Teddy (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 4:11pm

re #95/Loser League standings:

Click on my name--I think those are the standings. You can't click on your team to see the player-by-player breakdown like last year (at least not yet), but this looks like the spot where the overall standings will live.

The current winning team actually has negative points, which is sick. My boys (Hart Lee & Dykes LLP) is poised for a run, though.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 4:29pm

Re: 105

Ouch. 32 points already?!? I suck at sucking.

by JayHak (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 4:40pm

Delhomme (@ Minny), or Leftwich (@Pit) ?

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 5:02pm

107: Depends on whether or not you think Steve Smith is starting, I suppose.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 5:27pm

Wow, I'm doing a lot better this year than last in Loser League (Way Better Than Mold). Unfortunately I wish I could remember who I actually had on my team...

by nicanor (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 6:32pm

Anyone want to chime in on wich of these two RB to start:

Parker v. JAG
Westbrook v. NYG

Any inside dope from Philly readers on Westbrook, as I read somewhere that Westbrook didn't practice the other day.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 7:21pm

He's fine. He had swelling in his knee, but Reid said he fully expects him to be 100% by Sunday.

by stchoo (not verified) :: Fri, 09/15/2006 - 8:53pm

Re 105


My team (The blehboys) is doing better than I thought, 16 pts. Middle of the pack, but I thought they would have at least 30!

by nicanor (not verified) :: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 12:16am

Re: 111,

Thanks for the tip Pat. I have Tomlinson and am thinking I am going with Westbrook for my second RB as my opponent has Donovan. Am hoping maybe Westbrook can catch one or run one in, though not for the same reasons as philly fans. Though, I must say I think the Eagles have a pretty good shot at winning the division this year. Just a feeling of mine.

by Dash (not verified) :: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 10:23am

What seems to be the word on Steve Smith long-term? I'd like to know because I just got a proposal where I'd give up C. Johnson for S. Smith and J. Jones, and want to know if it's worth the risk.

I miss being able to read Will Carroll and the Black & Blue Report...

by Yaxley (not verified) :: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 11:53am

I wondering about starting Westbrook as well. Even if he is 100% against the Giants tomorrow, I was thinking about starting Frank Gore against the Rams instead. Is that crazy?

Also, I'm not sure about TE. PFP 2006 sold me on Chris Cooley, but his negative receiving yardage last week makes me think Ben Watson against the Jets is the better start. Thoughts?

by Jason (not verified) :: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 12:19pm

I need to start 3 of the following 5 RBs this week (1 pt. per 20 yds., 6 pts. per TD):

McGahee @ Mia
Droughns @ Cin
Addai @ Hou
Foster @ Min
Maroney @ NYJ

I'd like to put Maroney in against the Jets' defense but NE is spreading the carries around. He may get even fewer than the 17 he got last week so I'm leaning towards benching him. I'm thinking of also benching either McGahee or Foster since Addai and Droughns are playing against bad defenses.

Who to start?

by Jason (not verified) :: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 12:35pm

Re: #116

Actually Addai only got 10 touches last week so maybe I bench him rather than Maroney?

by Whatever0 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 12:41pm

I've got an odd question to ask: What does everyone think the level of imparity required in a trade should be, for a realistic veto? Should it be used in cases of obviously lopsided trades, or only in cases of obvious collusion? Does that change when you go from a commisioner to everyone voting on it?

After looking it over a little bit more, the trade that initially caused me to ask this question- Fred Taylor for Santana Moss and Trent Green- isn't really that bad a trade, even though it is pretty stupid. Over six rounds passed between both the average and our league's drafting of Moss and Taylor for a reason, and one game shouldn't make all that up.

However, I'm sure other people are facing, or will be facing, similar problems over the season. What's everyone's thoughts about when to nix a trade?

by compucrazy (not verified) :: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 4:33pm

Guysone more big fantasy question. I have two defenses on my squad I can only play one. Detroit or Atlanta, whihc is the better play this week?

by Dash (not verified) :: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 6:08pm

RE: 116

I'd stay away from Droughns. I was at the CLE-NO game, and CLE gave Harrison the ball in short-yardage situations, and the talk around here is they'll do the same this week. I'd start McGahee (he's all the Bills offense right now, and Parker ran relatively well against MIA last week), Foster (CAR might not look good, but he's their only production right now), and Addai (I see this one being over quickly, and I imagine IND will want to have him get touches in garbage time).

by Dash (not verified) :: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 6:12pm

RE: 117

I don't think you protest a trade if it's stupid. I just had a T. Bell for C. Benson trade in my league, so I understand your concern about dumb trades. I just commented on our league's message board about how the guy giving up Bell got fleeced, but I didn't protest it. The only time I'd protest a trade is later in the year when the 1-8 team in your league is giving players away to the playoff teams for nothing right before the trade deadline.

by Dash (not verified) :: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 6:15pm

RE: 118, that is...

by Dave (not verified) :: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 11:23pm

Hi All,

I need to start 3WR, 2RB and 1 WR/RB

My RBs are
L. Jordon
B. Westbrook
M. Bell

WR are
Rod Smith
M. Jenkins
A. Bryant
E. Kennison
B. Engram
E. Parker

I also have to pick between Hasselbeck and Vick for QB.



by Jim (not verified) :: Sun, 09/17/2006 - 12:29pm

Got a flex spot to fill: Lundy, A. Bryant, or L. Coles (I plan on starting Johnson at the other WR). Basic scoring system.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Sun, 09/17/2006 - 1:31pm

123: I'd go with all 3 of the running backs, Smith, Bryant and Jenkins. Kennison has the unknown QB issue, and Engram and Parker definitely aren't their team's #1 receiver. As for the QB, unless you're talking about Tim Hasselbeck, I think that's an easy choice.

124: My preference would be in the order you have them. I tend to lean RB and Indy's run defense wasn't inspiring last week.

My own question: which WR would you pick: Rod Smith or Andre Johnson? I'm tending towards Smith because of the matchup, but I'm not totally sure.

by Ralph (not verified) :: Sun, 09/17/2006 - 6:22pm

Good call on the Dolphins, once again.