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17 Oct 2007

Scramble for the Ball: Fair Trade

by Bill Barnwell

Tuesday's trade deadline, much like the ones that preceded it, can best be described as Little Ado About Little. Last year's Booger McFarland deal brought the Colts a defensive tackle that contributed towards their title run. This year's moves, though, aren't likely to make or break the chances of either Tampa Bay or San Diego. Michael Bennett is fast, but he doesn't really break tackles and he never had the best instincts when it comes to finding the hole. You all know how I feel about Chris Chambers (although he was actually having a pretty decent season in Miami this year).

There have been players throughout history, though, who have joined teams in midseason and made a huge impact. Let's take a look back at the ten players who have put up the most fantasy points in one season playing for two (or more) teams.

Herschel Walker, 1989

Probably the most famous trade in NFL history. Just to review: Walker, two third-round picks, a fifth-round pick, and a tenth-round pick for LB Jesse Solomon, LB David Howard, CB Issiac Holt, RB Darrin Nelson, DE Alex Stewart, three first-round picks, three second-round picks, a third-round pick, and a sixth-round pick. Walker only managed 669 yards in the 11 games following the trade, but the combined 915 rushing yards, 40 receptions, 423 receiving yards, and nine scores Walker put up in his season was the best fantasy season ever put up by a multi-team player. That doesn't mean it lived up to expectations or was a good trade, obviously.

Wes Chandler, 1981

Chandler was the trickle-down from the holdout of John Jefferson. Jefferson, a product of the Air Coryell system, held out and was shipped off to Green Bay, where he served as the number two receiver across from James Lofton and struggled to put up numbers comparable to his San Diego production. The Chargers acquired Chandler from the Saints in midseason to replace him, and their points scored went from 418 to 478. Chandler ended up with a 1,000-yard season and six touchdowns across both locales, and played a key role in the famed Chargers-Dolphins playoff game that year.

Eric Dickerson, 1987

Dickerson held out to start the season, waited through the strike, and went from Los Angeles to Indianapolis in a deal that netted the Rams Greg Bell and three first rounders. Dickerson had a 1,000-yard season ... in nine games. I bet Willie Parker can't even do that.

Theotis Brown, 1983

Brown had a very strange career to go with his very strange first name. He was a second-round pick out of UCLA by the Cardinals in 1979 -- as a 230-pound fullback -- but lost his job after two seasons and was traded to the Seahawks four weeks into the 1981 season. He became the featured running back that year, but then the next year, the Seahawks established the 2007 Packers game plan by giving four running backs 30 to 63 carries for the whole season. Even in a nine-game season, that's remarkably low. After three games in 1983, Brown was dealt to Kansas City, where he split carries with Billy Jackson and became a short-yardage back and receiving threat, catching 47 passes, rushing for 467 yards, and scoring ten touchdowns. The next year, Brown played a full year as the starting fullback, but then in 1985, Brown suffered a heart attack that ended his career.

Bobby Layne, 1958

The long-time Lions starting quarterback split time in 1957 with the newly-arrived Tobin Rote, formerly of Green Bay, and the resulting quarterback battle left Layne on the bench. Pittsburgh had Earl Morrall as the starter and a pair of backups who would go on to become legends in Jack Kemp and Len Dawson; unfortunately, they'd become legends in the AFL. After Layne lost his job to Rote, Pittsburgh flipped Morrall to Detroit for Layne in a challenge trade. Morrall wouldn't be a starting quarterback again until that famous 1968 Colts season, while Layne averaged 8.7 yards per attempt and was a Pro Bowler in 1959. Hey, the Lions stockpiling skill position players and trading them for pennies on the dollar? Someone should tell MDS about this...

Rob Carpenter, 1981

The father of the current Cowboys linebacker, and not to be confused with the first American 50-goal scorer in NHL history, Carpenter was acquired in 1981 by the Giants in Ray Perkins' second-to-final season as Giants head coach. After being stuck behind Earl Campbell in Houston, Carpenter immediately emerged as an integral part of the Giants offense, beating out Leon Perry, Louis Jackson, Doug Kotar, Billy Taylor, Leon Bright, and Ike Forte (no wonder he bombed with the Celtics) to receive the majority of carries. The Giants needed Carpenter, too, since they were stuck with the underperforming and injury-prone Phil Simms at quarterback and were enjoying the benefits of the Scott Brunner experience in his stead. Simms missed all of 1982 with a knee injury suffered in preseason against the Jets, and then spent 1983 backing up Brunner and his 9-to-22 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Finally, in 1984, Simms got the starting gig back for good, Butch Woolfolk was replaced by Joe Morris, and the Giants' winning ways returned. Simms' first four seasons represent both a cautionary and hopeful tale for rookie quarterbacks and bring up a very interesting question: Would he have had the same career path if he'd started his career in the modern media climate?

Chuck Muncie, 1980

Muncie requested a trade following the 1979 season, but it wasn't until 1980 that it would be consummated, with San Diego again involved. The Chargers had used fifth-round pick Clarence Williams as their starter in 1979 with limited success, despite his 12 touchdowns, and Muncie was a star in New Orleans with a significant pedigree. Muncie immediately became the starter and averaged a full yard more than Williams had the year before; the year after, he gained 1,144 yards.

Theotis Brown, 1981

I told you, Theotis Brown had a weird career.

Antonio Bryant, 2004

Bryant's not exactly had the most normal career up to this point, either. The former Pittsburgh wideout was drafted by the Cowboys in the second round in 2002, but never lived up to his pedigree, struggling for consistency and with his routes. A famous towel-related bust-up with Bill Parcells led to a 2004 trade to Cleveland, where he became their best wideout pre-Braylon Edwards. After his rookie contract expired and Bryant put up a 1,006-yard season, the 49ers signed him in the hopes that the 26-year-old still had better days in front of him. Instead, the old Bryant showed up to play, and a late-season DUI led to his release after the season. A suspension awaiting Bryant has led teams to avoid him, and there hasn't been any recent news of the talented receiver returning to the NFL.

Dave Casper, 1980

The Hall of Fame tight end was famed for being on the end of Ken Stabler's throws, so when the Oilers acquired Stabler, it seemed only natural that Casper would follow. He did, at the price of first- and second-round picks, and made the Pro Bowl in his first year with Houston, but was on the downside of his career and never put up similar numbers again. For 10 games, though, his 34 catches and 526 yards were enough to help push the Oilers into the playoffs, where they lost to ... the Oakland Raiders. Raiderjoe, take a bow.

Check out the Football Outsiders comics archive and Jason's wacky Gil Thorp blog.

Loser League

QB: It's too bad you don't get points for "just winning." Or, alternately, "just losing" when you're supposed to be "just winning." Vince Young's injury kept him off the field for a good chunk of Week 6, but he wasn't any great shakes when he was on the field either. His two points paced all quarterbacks. Second was Chad Pennington, who put up four points as he started his farewell tour.

RB: Sammy Morris has been the surprise package at running back of the first six weeks, but the gravy train might be stopping here; Laurence Maroney is ready to return from his groin injury (I think), and Morris could only manage one point this week after suffering an injury. Warrick Dunn, a player who I'm somewhat surprised didn't move at the trade deadline, could only score two points. A pair of NFC West backs split the runner-up honors; good job Shaun Alexander and Brian Leonard!

WR: Five players could only muster a single point this week. Matt Jones and Santana Moss were the notables, but Drew Carter, Antonio Chatman, and Jabar Gaffney also put up performances that could charitably described as "wack."

K: In my Madden Superstar mode, I started off as a running back for the Packers. Mason Crosby, in his rookie campaign for the Packers, missed five extra points in 16 games. Of course, in Superstar mode, you don't control the roster composition, but I almost benched Crosby for me and my 12 overall rating. After we won the Super Bowl, we signed Stephen Gostkowski, which was a good move, but since Brett Favre retired, the crack Madden AI waived Aaron Rodgers and used our first three draft picks on rookie quarterbacks. Crosby didn't miss an extra point this week, but he did miss two field goals that almost cost the Packers. Crosby had one point this week, as did Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins.

Keep Choppin' Wood

KCW is usually the domain of poor coaches and generally mediocre and/or temperamental players. It's rare that we award the spot to a player of some quality, which is why it feels strange this week to hand the ax to Santana Moss. Moss wasn't the only player who screwed up for Washington in Green Bay, but his mistakes were the two most prominent; his fumble on a reverse in the third quarter resulted in Green Bay's touchdown, and his awful drop whilst wide-open behind the defense on what would've been a sure touchdown cost the Redskins an opportunity to win. Moss isn't likely to show up here again, but he was the man who chopped the most wood in Week 6.

Best Bets

2-1 last week, 7-7-1 overall

Pittsburgh (-4) over DENVER

Denver's not the same team they were in previous years. Both DAVE and DVOA peg them as a well-below average team. Meanwhile, the Steelers are the third-best team in football according to both metrics. Denver's home-field advantage helps, but the Steelers are still a superior team and one likely to create problems for Jay Cutler.

CINCINNATI (-6.5) over New York Jets

Carson Palmer versus the worst pass defense in football. Whee! If I was betting over/under lines in Scramble, the +/- 47 line would be ripe, too.

Tampa Bay (+2.5) over DETROIT

Hopefully, Jeff Garcia will know the signals Rod Marinelli's defense is calling out, since Marinelli was a Buccaneers assistant for ten seasons. Either way, Detroit's W-L record is far above their actual level of play according to either DVOA or DAVE, and Tampa's ranked fifth by both our metrics.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 17 Oct 2007

29 comments, Last at 18 Oct 2007, 1:10pm by Andrew


by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 4:59pm

Re: Sammy Morris

The Boston Herald reports he's out for at least a month with an injury (though not a break) to the clavicle/sternum joint.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 4:59pm

closing the tag, just in case...

by gmc (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 5:00pm


by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 5:04pm

We don't speak Danish. Priceless.

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 5:05pm

"Does Morton Andersen have to put up with this crap,"

And Bill, I don't care what the spread is;
How on earth is New England over Miami NOT a Best Bet?

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 5:11pm

I wouldn't touch Pats-Phins with a 10 foot pole.

Certainly, with the way the Pats and Phins have each been playing, the Pats could easily cover (and maybe even double) the 16-18 point spread that's been posted.

On the other hand, Dolphins' Stadium has been Brady's House of Horrors over the years, and this could very easily be one of the Two Annual Brady 4-INT Meltdown Games.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 5:19pm

PatsFan (#6 )--

I'm pretty sure Brady has only one of those hairball games a year.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 5:26pm

"On the other hand, Dolphins’ Stadium has been Brady’s House of Horrors over the years, and this could very easily be one of the Two Annual Brady 4-INT Meltdown Games."

I still think the Pats would cover.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 5:31pm

RE: Losers of the week.

Santana Moss had zero catches and 1 carry-- he certainly carded a penalty. The "S. Moss" who earned one LL point was probably his brother, Sinorice.

by STEVENT (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 5:49pm

What about Mike Haynes, one of the best
corners ever, to the Raiders in 83?
Pairing him with Lester Hayes at the other
CB spot the Raiders were able to beat Pittsburgh
38-10, Seattle 30-14 and the Redskins 38-9
in a pretty dominating post-season run.

by itis (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 6:14pm

what about the niners' trade this year? they got rid of W. Streak for his bro, L. Streak..

by SovietBear (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 6:21pm

That was the best comic yet. Jason's hitting his stride this year.

by C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 6:28pm

Another note on Santana Moss- an interception was of the 'bounce off of Moss' hands and into the DB's' variety. So he cost the Redskins even more than what is listed here.

by johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 6:30pm

Given what the Raiders did in Miami, Brady might not throw 4 passes in the game, let alone 4 ints.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 6:50pm

Given what the Raiders did in Miami, Brady might not throw 4 passes in the game, let alone 4 ints.
I hear Kyle Eckel is available in a lot of fantasy leagues...

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 6:54pm

re: 13
Yeah, it's hard to imagine any player, much less a very very good one, having only a few chances to touch the ball all game, and yet having such a profound negative impact on his team. I wouldn't be surprised if it was unprecedented.

He was worth at least -10 points that game, if not more.

by bartleby (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 7:01pm

Isn't this column for fantasy advice?

by ntr Santana Moss (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 7:43pm

don't forget the pass that hit me in the hands which I tipped to GB for Campbell's first INT in 100 attempts.

by Jimmy in Oz (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 8:01pm

The fantasy Santana Moss i had ended week 6 with no catches, no yards, one fumble, minus 2 points, and a new home on the waiver wire

by Xian (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2007 - 8:47pm


Probably because the article started off with this...

Let’s take a look back at the ten players who have put up the most fantasy points in one season playing for two (or more) teams.

I'm hoping that Ted Thompson isn't quite as foolish as the Madden AI. How about just 2 of 3 first day picks on QBs next year? I'd be okay with that.

by Penrose 10,000 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:27am

As a Redskins homer, I recall telling my brother at halftime, "I'm glad the Redskins took Moss out of their gameplan. For most of last year and all of this one, he can't catch. Every attempt looks like he's laying himself out for the ball, but every time it bounces off of his hands and up in the air." Then, in the 3rd they give him the ball on a reverse to fumble. Ugh. I don't know what's wrong with him, but he has absolutely no positive value right now.

Redskins WRs:
Randal El - solid when healthy
McCardell/Thrash - replacement level
Brandon Lloyd - who knows. We haven't really given him a shot this year, but he's looked like he's trying.
Moss - not until he's got his mojo back

Thank goodness for Chris Cooley!

by Justin Singer (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 12:33am

Keep Chopping Wood should go to Mike Holmgren. Down 11, under 2 minutes, and the clock running because of the terrible draw call on 3rd and 10, Holmgren went for it on 4th. Now, a field goal here keeps the Seahawks down just one possession. You guys didnt mention this in audibles or KCW? This was by far the worst decision of the week. KCW was created for this exact situation.

by Jason (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 1:30am

About Moss in his KCW nomination you state

"his awful drop whilst wide-open behind the defense on what would’ve been a sure touchdown cost the Redskins an opportunity to win."

That is definitely not true. The pass that hit Moss in the facemask would have been clearly out of bounds at the 15 yard line

by ygold (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 2:36am

Re: #1
The Boston Globe reported "according to league sources" Morris "could miss a month". That's not quite the same as "out at least a month".

Were these the same sources that said Eli Manning "could miss a month"?

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 9:54am

Morrall wouldn’t be a starting quarterback again until that famous 1968 Colts season,

nitpick--Morrall actually was the starter for the Giants in 1965

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 10:39am

Starshatterer #7:

I’m pretty sure Brady has only one of those hairball games a year.

Oooo ... you haven't been paying attention. Lets go back in time ...

06 @SDG 27 of 51 for 280, 2 TD, 3 INT, 2 SAC, 1 FUM
06 @MIA 12 of 24 for 78(!), 0 TD, 0 INT, 4 SAC, 2 FUM
06 IND 20 of 35 for 201, 0 TD, 4 INT, 0 SAC, 0 FUM
05 @KAN 22 of 40 for 248, 1 TD, 4 INT, 3 SAC, 0 FUM
04 @MIA 18 of 29 for 171, 3 TD, 4 INT, 2 SAC, 0 FUM
04 MIA 7 of 19 for 76(!), 2 TD, 1 INT, 1 SAC, 0 FUM
03 @NYG 8 of 21 for 112(!), 0 TD, 0 INT, 2 SAC, 0 FUM
03 WAS 25 of 38 for 289, 2 TD, 3 INT, 1 SAC, 0 FUM
03 @BUF 14 of 28 for 123, 0 TD, 4 INT, 2 SAC, 0 FUM
02 @GNB 24 of 44 for 183, 1 TD, 3 INT, 2 SAC, 2 FUM
01 MIA 11 of 19 for 108(!), 1 TD, 0 INT, 3 SAC, 1 FUM
01 @DEN 25 of 38 for 203, 2 TD, 4 INT, 2 SAC, 1 FUM
01 @MIA 12 of 24 for 86(!), 0 TD, 0 INT, 4 SAC, 2 FUM

That's 11 hairball games in 6 seasons, an average of nearly two games per year where Brady tosses 3-4 picks or throws for under 120 yards. Miami was involved in 5 of them. The 05 Week 17 game was looking similar before Brady was yanked. There's also the 02 Week 5 game @ Miami, which was really bad, but only involved 2 interceptions and 1 fumble.

by TGT (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 11:15am

@26 Since when does "4-int meltdown game" mean "4-int or 0-int, but under 120 yards passing meltdown game?"

by Diane (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 11:25am

Am I the only one thankful that the comic didn't include the GEICO (and now ABC) "cavemen"?

Great work Jason!

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 1:10pm

TGT #27:

Well, we were talking about Brady's troubles with Miami. His 8 career 3-4 interception semi-annual meltdowns have only involved Miami once, the infamous AJ Feeley victory of 2004. But 4 other times he's thrown for just 76 to 108 yards against Miami, barely completing 50% of his passes, and 3 of the 4 times having sack-fumbles that helped lose the game. You won't win many games with your QB not even passing the length of the field once. And a game where you get under 80 yards passing is just as bad as one with 300 yards and 3 interceptions.

Overall, his Miami stat line in 12 games is 182 of 329 for 1878 yards, 16 TD, 11 INT. That's 18% fewer TD's/game than in his other 103 games and 21% more interceptions. His completion percentage not playing Miami is 63% vs. 55.3% against Miami. His yards per game is 83 fewer playing Miami. His passer rating drops from 91.8 to 74.2. He has a passer rating over 92 in 53 of his 115 games, but just 1 of those was against Miami.

There's no reason to expect a 4 interception metldown, but there is also no reason to expect brilliance.