Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

by Bill Barnwell and Ian Dembsky

The Final Countdown

Bill: OK, rotoheads. It's Week 16. Championship Week. Well, except for leagues who have their championship in Week 15 -- our bad. Or Week 17, in which case, your commissioner's bad. Then there are those leagues that play 17 weeks of regular season with no playoffs... Anyway, we want to congratulate those of you who have a meaningful game this week. You're one step away from money, bragging rights, or, in one league we know, a life-sized cardboard cutout of David Hasselhoff in Baywatch regalia. (No, sadly, not a Fathead.) With that in mind, I felt like an important exercise to start Scramble off with this week would be an analysis of the key matchups for next week -- a sort of starting point for the comments thread discussion.

Now, keep in mind that these suggestions are not infallible; they're my best estimation of what will happen based upon the history of previous weeks and other contextual aspects. That being said, anything is possible -- even DeShaun Foster finds a hole once in a while. Sorry, blind squirrels out there. Consider an "excellent" matchup to be one where you might expect a player to perform well, say, 70-75% of the time. Is that advantage worth playing a Mike Furrey-type over Marvin Harrison? Of course not -- use your better judgment and the specific rules of your league to help determine whether a marginal player is really a likely better play than a star -- but if it comes down to playing one marginal player or one star over another, you might want to consider the recommendations below.

Please also note that this column was written on Monday and so, as a result, the numbers quoted below are through the first 14 weeks of the season.

Thursday: Minnesota at Green Bay (-5)

I would first recommend that you actually have your lineup prepared for Thursday. You do not want to be the guy who leaves a player from one of these teams on your bench, not realizing you needed to have him in the lineup already, only to see him score a couple touchdowns. There's very few things more comforting in a playoff battle than going into Sunday already up 30 points.

I'll get to the line on this game later, but this is a game you can expect to be reasonably close. If the rumors are true and Tarvaris Jackson is actually starting at quarterback for the Vikings, you'd be hard-pressed to justify playing him in his first NFL start at Lambeau (where the forecast calls for freezing rain, by the way). The Packers defense is no great shakes, but there are simply too many other options out there for Jackson to be a smart play. The Vikings will probably rely more on their running attack for offense, and if they take a lead, they'll be running the ball to kill the clock in the second half. While Chester Taylor had a poor week last week against the abysmal Jets rush defense, another week removed from his rib injury should provide him with more of a basis for selection on your team's roster. He had 75 yards on 20 carries in the Vikings' loss to Green Bay earlier in the season. Also worth noting are Green Bay's struggles in defending throws to the running back, where they rank 27th in defensive DVOA. That might be a spot for Mewelde Moore to step in; Moore had five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown last week, and has seen his role in the passing attack increase as the season's gone on. Again, just to clarify: Moore shouldn't be replacing Larry Johnson in your lineup, but if you're short a running back due to injury or need someone at a Flex position in a league where receptions count for points, Moore might be an intelligent pickup.

Green Bay, meanwhile, will be up against it with that excellent Vikings rush defense staring them in the face. Proverbially. Actually, I don't even want to talk about staring right now. That makes Ahman Green or any other Packers RB a difficult decision this week -- Green had 55 yards on 22 carries the first time around against Minnesota, and he's no longer enough of a receiving threat to worry the Vikings on that front, either. Avoid him this week unless you have no other option. Minnesota's backfield isn't of the same class as the Brothers Williams -- they're 17th against #1 WRs, a figure owing something to the six-catch, 191-yard day that Donald Driver stuck on them last time. While you can't expect Driver to have as good of a day this time around, he's still a very good play this week. To summarize:

Very Good Idea: Donald Driver
Pretty Good Idea: Chester Taylor
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: Mewelde Moore
Likely to Disappoint: n/a
Avoid: Ahman Green, Tarvaris Jackson

Saturday: Kansas City at Oakland (+6.5)

I would say that I could see Oakland giving up on Art Shell, but to give up on someone, I think you actually have to believe in them at some point. It's hard to find a time that this team actually did. Now, Rob Ryan, they have all the faith in the world in.

While most everyone (and certainly our FO readership) has picked up on the Oakland defense and its quality this year, what's worth noting is that it's not a defense that's created equally. Its pass defense is 4th according to DVOA; against the run, though, Oakland is 17th. That's not bad, but it's nothing that should keep you from thinking, even for a second, about benching Larry Johnson this week. Trent Green, on the other hand, will have a difficult matchup here. Oakland is #1 in the league against #1 WRs and #5 against tight ends, leaving Green with throws to, well, Larry Johnson, as Oakland's 30th against throws to running backs. Green's not a good play this week unless pretty much absolutely necessary, and while it's hard to bench Eddie Kennison, he had two catches for 38 yards when these teams first met (also the game Green returned from his injury). On the other hand, though, Tony Gonzalez missed that game with injury, which undoubtedly meant more safety help with Kennison. Eddie isn't a player to avoid this week, but if you have an excellent matchup somewhere else, he's one of the bigger names you might actually consider benching.

As for Oakland's offense, if you made it to the Championship Game with a member of the Raiders, you need to stop playing against preschool students. While Kansas City has the 26th ranked pass defense in the league, could you really feel comfortable playing Aaron Brooks in a Championship Game? Really? You're telling me you wouldn't check StatTracker and cringe? Every time a Game Break came on and you saw the Kansas City and Oakland helmets, you wouldn't shield your eyes? Just don't put yourself through that. With Randy Moss hobbled by an ankle sprain, it's hard to find a good play for this Oakland offense. If anyone, you could form some sort of a justification for playing Ronald Curry, who has 17 catches over the last two weeks and had five for 85 yards against the Chiefs last time they played. And, if your league awards bonuses for crippling knee injuries, Curry goes from interesting waiver-wire fodder to must-have. With the Raiders likely to be playing from behind, like most every week, Justin Fargas isn't much of a play.

Very Good Idea: Larry Johnson. Duh.
Pretty Good Idea: n/a
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: Ronald Curry
Likely to Disappoint: Eddie Kennison
Avoid: Trent Green, Aaron Brooks, Justin Fargas

Tennessee at Buffalo (-4.5)

Speaking of defenses not created equal, Buffalo's sixth-ranked pass defense (led by the resurgence of Nate Clements) could sure use some help from the 28th best rush defense in football. In this case, one detracts from the other -- while Buffalo's small defensive line is great when rushing the passer (fourth best Adjusted Sack Rate in football), they get annihilated when teams run it right at them (26th in Power Rushing and 28th in Stuffs). What does this mean? Strangely enough, Travis Henry's a pretty good play this week. Watch out to see what the local papers say about his ankle -- if he's close to 100%, he could very easily have a big day against this Buffalo defense.

Vince Young? It's hard to say. I'm inclined to think that Buffalo's quick defensive front would be able to somewhat neutralize his rushing potential, but if you watch the guy run, it's hard to think that Lawrence Taylor in Tecmo Bowl would be able to slow him down. Buffalo has only played one scrambling quarterback all season -- no, Daunte Culpepper in Week 2 does not count -- and that's David Garrard, who ran five times for 28 yards. It's not enough to tip the scales in Young's favor, especially considering the quality of the Bills pass defense.

Buffalo's offense will be up against a Tennessee defense that's improving as the season goes on (they're 15th in weighted defensive DVOA, but only 21st overall). Tennessee has struggled with slot receivers this year, so Buffalo might be able to sneak a long throw to Roscoe Parrish, assuming he doesn't try and run 15 yards backwards for the second week in a row. Beyond that, this is a pretty standard matchup for the Buffalo offense -- if you'd normally play a member of their lineup and don't feel too confident about any of your other options, go ahead and play the one you've got.

Very Good Idea: Travis Henry (if healthy)
Pretty Good Idea: n/a
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: Roscoe Parrish
Likely to Disappoint: Vince Young
Avoid: n/a

New Orleans at New York Giants (-3)

I can tell you, first and foremost, that I am dreading this matchup as a Giants fan. I don't think Joe Horn (if he even plays) will have another Cell Phone-level game, but Big Blue's defensive backfield simply isn't very good. The Giants rank a terrible 30th defending tight ends, which might make Billy Miller effective waiver wire fodder. He caught three passes last week, and Mark Campbell is still questionable. I can't promise he's going to have a giant game, but if you're scraping the barrel, he might be the tastiest bit left.

Reggie Bush doesn't have the best matchup this week. The Giants are seventh in the league against passes to running backs, and they do have the eighth best rush defense in the league. They even have good punt coverage. Bush will get touches, but he might only have 50-70 yards from scrimmage -- there are better running backs to play this week.

Like, say, Tiki Barber. The Saints defense is pretty average against the run (20th) and pass (22nd), and while they're #1 in defending passes to running backs (probably from practicing against Bush), Barber will find creases in the running game against a team that really, really struggles with the big play. The Saints are 30th in the league in giving up runs of 10 yards or more. On the other hand, they're fourth in defending against power runs and 3rd in stuffing running backs, which might not bode well for using Brandon Jacobs.

Plaxico Burress also profiles as a strong play this week, with the Saints being 31st in the league against #1 wide receivers.

Very Good Idea: Plaxico Burress, Drew Brees
Pretty Good Idea: Tiki Barber, Jeremy Shockey
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: Billy Miller
Likely to Disappoint: Reggie Bush
Avoid: Brandon Jacobs

Carolina at Atlanta (-6)

If DeAngelo Hall was really the best cover corner in the league, would Terrell Owens have spit in his face? Probably not. You would have figured Michael Irvin -- who I'm convinced is feeding TO ideas from the booth -- might have had TO genuflect and/or pick a fight with Hall.

Ignoring the hype, Atlanta's got the worst pass defense in the league against #1 wideouts and the third worst against #2 wideouts. Do you know what that means? I don't care how bad Chris Weinke is, Steve Smith is a must-play and Keyshawn Johnson can be expected to produce. He only had four catches for 40 yards in Week 1, but Smith was out. Of course, the likely success of those two receivers pushes Weinke into the intriguing fodder category -- I would bet he has a better day next week than Trent Green.

Carolina has only run the ball 29 times as a team over the last two weeks. Granted, they've been behind in those games, and Atlanta's rush defense is 21st in the league, but I'd skip DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams this week.

Atlanta, on the other hand, will have to run the ball on the fourth-best run defense in football. Carolina's lost Mike Rucker to a torn ACL, but Rucker's more of a pass rusher at this point anyway. Atlanta ran for 252 yards on 47 carries in Week 1 against the Panthers, but they ran for 146 combined yards in the two teams' 2005 meetings. Let's split the difference -- Michael Vick isn't a particularly solid play, but Warrick Dunn probably is. A good idea regardless would be Alge Crumpler, who will be up against a Carolina defense that's been hard-pressed to stop tight ends (27th overall) this season.

Very Good Idea: Steve Smith, Alge Crumpler
Pretty Good Idea: Keyshawn Johnson, Warrick Dunn
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: Chris Weinke
Likely to Disappoint: Michael Vick, DeShaun Foster
Avoid: DeAngelo Williams

Washington at St. Louis (-2.5)

No offense to Redskins or Rams fans, but if it weren't for fantasy considerations, you might just prefer to have Madden simulate this game for you. With that in mind, there are some real fine matchups to take advantage of this week.

On Washington's side, Ladell Betts continues to be the latest argument for running back fungibility. He's become a steady week-to-week performer, with four consecutive 100-yard games, and playing the St. Louis defense will do little to dissuade him from making it five. He's an excellent play this week.

In fact, it's pretty hard to find a player in Washington's lineup that would be a bad play against the Rams, who are miserable across the board defensively. 29th against the pass, 29th against the run, 32nd in weighted DVOA, and ranging from 21st to 26th defending against any types of receivers. I'm pretty sure they couldn't stop a streaker at this point; of course, if Al Saunders saw one come onto the field, he'd probably insist on drawing up a screen pass for him. While Jason Campbell has been no great shakes so far, this could very well be his first breakout game of the season. Upgrade all your Redskins players accordingly; just remember that suck versus suck can be very random and painful, and with that in mind, Antwaan Randle El is never a good idea.

Washington's defense is a little different; they have a solid rush defense, but offer up the worst pass defense in football to counteract that. They have the worst defense against throws to the running back, which bodes very well for Steven Jackson, while both Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce are good ideas.

Very Good Idea: Ladell Betts, Steven Jackson, Torry Holt, Santana Moss
Pretty Good Idea: Chris Cooley, Jason Campbell, Isaac Bruce
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: n/a
Likely to Disappoint: n/a
Avoid: The Under.

Indianapolis at Houston (+9.5)

Last week, I said in an e-mail to one of our readers that David Carr might be a solid play because the Texans would probiably be behind, and the Patriots struggle against underneath receivers. Well, I was half right. In much the same vein, the Texans are going to be behind in this game. Does that make Carr a good play? It's hard to say. He had a good day at Indianapolis in Week 2 -- 219 yards and three touchdowns without an interception -- but his confidence is clearly shot at this point. There's a not-insignificant chance that he will get benched sometime during this game, and with that threat looming over Carr's head, you can't play him. There's just too much of a chance he'll end up 4-for-11 with 39 yards and an interception. You can, however, play Andre Johnson against the Colts' pass defense. Someone will throw it to him and he'll probably catch it.

Indianapolis' offense tends to be consistent against specific opponents if you go back and look at the numbers throughout the last several years. An example? Reggie Wayne's numbers against the Texans over the last three games: 6 catches for 135 yards, 9 catches for 89 yards, and 8 catches for 72 yards. Marvin Harrison? 7 for 127, 7 for 65, and 7 for 108. Sure, they tend to have good days against pretty much everyone, but you can be pretty sure that they're not going to have a sudden stinker. If you've got an Indianapolis player in your lineup, you don't need me to tell you to put him in.

Very Good Idea: Usual Indianapolis Suspects
Pretty Good Idea: Andre Johnson
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: n/a
Likely to Disappoint: n/a
Avoid: David Carr

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-3)

Vegas will never, ever make Pittsburgh a home dog. A lot of this game would seemingly depend upon the health of Steve McNair, who should at least be given credit for coming up with a new injury for himself. I mean, it's hard work -- he's already had to resort to the spleen. A hole in the hand? It's even a nod to the season!

Assuming Kyle Boller gets the start, he would be smart to play the same way that McNair plays now, checking down as often as possible, not giving up field position, and letting his defense win games. I promise I won't use the m word. If that's how he plays, he's not a particularly appetizing start against the Pittsburgh defense. Neither is Jamal Lewis, despite his good showing last week. Going from the 24th ranked rush defense in football to the third won't bode well. Keep him on your bench unless a line of 22 carries for 47 yards and (if he's lucky) a plunge for a touchdown is better than your backup options. Pittsburgh has been really bad against #1 and #2 WRs (30th and 29th, respectively), which could bode well for Mark Clayton to have a big catch or two.

Of course, as good as Pittsburgh's defense is, Baltimore's is that much better. They have the best Adjusted Sack Rate in all of football, and remember what they did to Ben Roethlisberger in Week 12. He threw for 214 yards with two interceptions and nine sacks. He won't be that bad this week, but keep him out of your lineup if you have a better option available -- like, say, Jason Campbell. I would say to downgrade the rest of your Steelers players based upon the quality of the defense, but there are mitigating factors here. This game will be close, so Willie Parker and Najeh Davenport will see quite a few touches; on the other hand, if Baltimore does have a weakness, it's that they're 16th versus #1 wideouts. Another week removed from arthroscopic surgery on his knee, Hines Ward should have more explosiveness and he could be the Steelers best offensive weapon this week.

Very Good Idea: n/a
Pretty Good Idea: Hines Ward, Mark Clayton
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: n/a
Likely to Disappoint: Kyle Boller, Ben Roethlisberger, Jamal Lewis
Avoid: n/a

Tampa Bay at Cleveland (-3)

Oh yeah. Here's a game that you'd definitely let Madden simulate. Take me to the rookie scouting! Let me see if the fine denizens of Salt Lake City have raised their interest level in an NFL team above a 13! Maybe I can build the Goalposts of Light!

OK, so maybe this isn't the most exciting game, but there is fantasy potential here. First and foremost, he's already an automatic, but make sure Kellen Winslow is in your lineup. Tampa Bay is 28th against the pass and 29th against tight ends this season. They're also 27th against #1 WRs, which could hold some interest for Braylon Edwards owners. He's a good start this week as a #3 WR or Flex guy. As for Derek Anderson? Not to be confused with my former roommate and All-American thrower for Northeastern, the football DA was pretty effective against Baltimore, of all teams, last week. Considering he's playing Tampa this week ... Well, if you would ever consider playing Derek Anderson as your starting quarterback in a fantasy football Championship Game, these would be the circumstances. That's all I'm saying. If Charlie Frye's healthy enough to start, I'd hold him out for the same reason I'd leave David Carr out this week: if Frye looks hurt or starts off poorly, Anderson will come in, and you'll be out of luck. If Anderson is named the starter, Frye won't get on the field.

Tampa Bay is fortunate in that they're playing a Cleveland defense that is wearing down as the season goes along. While they're ranked 15th in overall defensive DVOA, they're 23rd in the weighted category. Some of that has to do with the struggles of Leigh Bodden after returning from injury and the other injuries around the defensive backfield, but the Buccaneers rushing attack is the more likely threat versus the Browns' 24th ranked rush defense. Sure, that might just be because the quarterback was Bruce Gradkowski, but long-suffering Cadillac Williams owners -- and if you got to the finals with Cadillac, good job -- could finally see a big day out of Carnell this week. Stick him in there.

Very Good Idea: Kellen Winslow
Pretty Good Idea: Cadillac Williams, Braylon Edwards
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: Derek Anderson
Likely to Disappoint: n/a
Avoid: Bruce Gradkowski

Chicago at Detroit (+4.5)

Oh, I really hope Ian doesn't bet that line. Sure, Chicago didn't look very good last week, but under a score against the Lions? Wow.

If you have Roy Williams, well, you may still have hope. Chicago's ranked 26th against #1 WRs ... and no lower than fourth against anyone else. Remember Steve Smith in the playoffs last year? Keep Williams in your lineup, but everyone else Detroit has, including Jon Kitna, should be out. With the Lions likely to be behind, Kitna may get a lot of attempts, but the possibility of multiple interceptions is too high to justify the play. Without getting penalized for said interceptions, Williams remains a good play. When Chicago beat Detroit 31-7 in Week 2, Williams still managed 6 catches for 71 yards.

Chicago, on the other hand, gets to play against the worst defense in football. Detroit is pretty much the inverse of the Bears; they are fourth against #1 WRs (poor, poor Dre Bly), but no higher than 28th against any other receivers. Adjust accordingly. Look for a big game out of Thomas Jones, whose strained side shouldn't bother him. Furthermore, with the Bears likely to be ahead by a couple of scores and running the ball accordingly, Cedric Benson can expect a workload towards the higher end of his norms: 13-16 carries, with a touchdown likely. Hey, he's playing the Lions. Everyone gets to score.

Oh, and by the way? Rex Grossman's QB rating against the Lions the first time around was 148.0. Stick him in there.

Very Good Idea: Thomas Jones, Rex Grossman
Pretty Good Idea: Cedric Benson, Roy Williams
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: n/a
Likely to Disappoint: Muhsin Muhammad
Avoid: Lions not named Roy Williams

New England at Jacksonville (-3)

Oh right. I knew I'd get in trouble doing this column somewhere. Allow me to be entirely honest: I have no idea. Overall, Jacksonville's defense has been pretty good and they've been real effective running the ball. They've been most effective running to the left side and up the middle, where the Patriots have been equally as effective in stopping the run. What does that mean? I have no idea. There'll probably be a new Moon on Saturday night going into Sunday. That's equally as relevant. What can you do with any game involving the Jaguars at this point? Just play your players if you have to and if you have a player you're even slightly more comfortable with, go with him. Unless you get credit in your league for just winning. Then go with David Garrard. And I think I just invented a fantasy league for next season where you get points for your quarterback throwing for less than five yards per attempt and you're docked fifteen points per interception.

Avoid: Logical thought about the Jaguars

Arizona at San Francisco (-4)

This game should be fun if nothing else. Frank Gore can't be benched, but the Cardinals' defensive weakness lies with the pass. They're 14th against the run and 25th in the air, struggling against all kinds of wide receivers. Would I start Antonio Bryant? Yes. Arnaz Battle? He has more catches than Bryant, and Arizona really struggles against #2 WRs, but ... I'm just not that brave. I wouldn't rush to get Vernon Davis in the lineup, as Arizona's pretty competent (15th) against tight ends. Eric Johnson's likely return won't help either person's cause to be a fantasy play.

Now, San Francisco's defense isn't very good yet; they're 27th against the pass and 30th against the run. Their corners are decent (18th against #1 WRs, 9th against #2 WRs), but they really struggle with tight ends and - hey - running backs! For the first time all season, a Football Outsiders writer is going to tell you Edgerrin James is a good fantasy play. Most of the Arizona offense is a good idea, actually -- this game is going to be a shootout.

Very Good Idea: Edgerrin James
Pretty Good Idea: Antonio Bryant, Larry Fitzgerald
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: Arnaz Battle
Likely to Disappoint: Frank Gore (but if you bench him, it's not my fault), Anquan Boldin
Avoid: Vernon Davis, Eric Johnson

Cincinnati at Denver (-3)

Jay Cutler is getting better as the weeks go on, but beating Arizona isn't exactly a sign of stardom. Cincinnati's not the interception machine they were last year, but they're still a team that's been effective at picking balls off over the last three seasons. Cutler's not a great play this week, even against a mediocre Bengals pass defense.

Having said that, a deep, deep sleeper play for the week? Brandon Marshall. He's becoming a larger part of the Broncos offense as the season goes on, he caught five passes last week, and he's up against a team that has real trouble (they're 28th) against #3+ WRs. I'd also look for the Broncos to get Tatum Bell involved in the passing game, where the Bengals also struggle (22nd) against running backs. If I were Mike Shanahan, I'd be designing my game plan away from the Bengals' corners and towards their depleted linebacking corps. Of course, I'm not a sexy genius.

Javon Walker's injury only means Marshall's more likely to see the ball.

Cincinnati's going to be up against a Denver defense that's about as average as average gets: 14th overall, 19th against the pass, 15th against the run. Their weakness? Throws to the tight end (21st) and running backs (29th). Unfortunately for Cincinnati, though, the loss of Chris Perry really limits their passing game out of the backfield to the occasional swing to Rudi Johnson. If Perry was healthy, he'd be a great play this week. Oh well.

Would I play Chad Johnson this week? It's a real difficult move. You know Champ Bailey will be on him as much as possible, and Denver's 2nd in the league against #1 WRs. Can you survive benching him and seeing him go for 140 yards on a gimpy Darrent Williams? Downgrade Johnson, but you'll have to have a really solid backup with a good matchup to take him out. Is he likely to disappoint? I'd say so. Then again, the last time he was up against Bailey was the famous Monday Night Football game where the OC left Bailey laying on the turf. I guess you could form a case either way, but I'd leave Johnson on my bench. Play T.J. Houshmandzadeh instead.

Very Good Idea: n/a
Pretty Good Idea: T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: Brandon Marshall
Likely to Disappoint: Chad Johnson
Avoid: Jay Cutler

San Diego at Seattle (+4.5)

I would've called this game out as a Super Bowl Preview before the season -- again, I would have been half-right. Everything I thought I knew about Seattle before the season started, at this point, I don't know anymore. I would say mean things, but most of the area has been without power for the better part of a week and I don't want the first thing they read after getting internet back to be me noting how Steve Hutchinson was probably worth that extra couple of million dollars. The more important thing is that you could always trust the Seattle crowd at Qwest Field to be worth a touchdown or so, and if a young quarterback was going there, Seattle would be a safe play; and then, Alex Smith and the 49ers rolled into town. There's a bug in my version of Madden where the game, very occasionally, will stop in-between plays and just show shots of players reacting over and over for hours without ever going to the next play. The only way to fix it is to reboot the system. It's very frustrating but amusing at the same time. I get the feeling that unless someone rebooted the Seahawks, they'd still be looking for the ball on that Alex Smith play fake.

So, then, let's not worry about what could've been but, instead, what is. Offensively, Seattle is 26th passing the ball and 27th running. San Diego's 11th and 16th at defending those things. What does that mean? Shaun Alexander is probably a good play. San Diego also really struggles with #1 WRs; they're 26th in the league. With Darrell Jackson out, that would seemingly benefit Deion Branch but, as Rotowire notes, D.J. Hackett actually had 13 passes in his direction last week. Hackett, who's second in receiving DVOA, is probably the best kept secret in your league. If he's available on the waiver wire, you are compelled to stick him in your lineup this week. Compelled. Here's my other wacky prediction of the week: D.J. Hackett has a better week than Chad Johnson.

On the other side of the ball, Seattle's 25th in the league defending the run. That means both LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner are good plays. If San Diego does lead by a comfortable margin, as could realistically be expected, Turner could see 10-12 carries. He's a decent play as a flex WR/RB.

Seattle's pass defense is 16th in the league, but San Diego won't need to worry about that when they'll be averaging six yards a pop on the ground.

Very Good Idea: LT, Shaun Alexander
Pretty Good Idea: n/a
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: D.J. Hackett, Michael Turner
Likely to Disappoint: Deion Branch
Avoid: n/a

Philadelphia at Dallas (-7)

Finally, we can go back to trusting the numbers. What do they tell us? Philadelphia's a pretty solid team, even without Donovan McNabb and Jevon Kearse. Their weakness is their rush defense, 19th in the league, and something which, combined with the likely outcome of the game, makes Marion Barber an excellent play for the week. Why him over Julius Jones? Well, even if you don't factor in what MDS wrote in Every Play Counts this week, look at Jones' yardage on a week-by-week basis since Tony Romo came into the lineup: 30, 92, 73, 45, 79, 40, 24, 116 (mostly on a single 77 yard carry), 26. Barber? 29, 49, 45, 65, 35, 83, 76, -1, 69. Jones' yardage is better, definitely. Then, factor in that Barber's got 18 catches for 173 yards, while Jones only has eight for 132. Jones is still ahead, of course, but then you might look and see that while Jones has four touchdowns on the season, Barber's got 15. Jones is more likely to earn you four to six points this week, but Barber's more likely to earn you fourteen. If you feel confident that the rest of your lineup will earn a solid number of points, Barber's worth the risk.

Philadelphia has pretty solid numbers in the passing game -- 15th against #1 WRs, 19th against #2 WRs, but 5th against RBs and 9th against TEs -- so Tony Romo and his merry cast of characters should be downgraded slightly. Bill Parcells is going to run the ball this week and as the Cowboys should be ahead for most of the game, Romo might not have to do very much.

Dallas' defensive weaknesses are their performances versus slot receivers and running backs in the passing game. Brian Westbrook owners, this is your week. Westbrook's an absolute must-play. Jeff Garcia, on the other hand, I'd avoid. He's looked pretty good so far, but I'd be concerned about the pressure he'll face from Dallas.

Very Good Idea: Brian Westbrook, Marion Barber
Pretty Good Idea: Julius Jones
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: n/a
Likely to Disappoint: Tony Romo, Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens
Avoid: n/a

New York Jets at Miami (-2)

Ronnie Brown owners get their presents twice on Christmas Day. His likely return during the Monday night game comes just in time to play the worst rush defense in football -- a run defense that is getting better, but allowed Brown 127 yards and a touchdown in Week 6. Playing at home this time, Brown's a very good player in an excellent matchup. If you don't hear a negative thing about his condition by Thursday, he's a must-start. He could put up big numbers even if he only gets 15 carries.

For the Jets, on the other hand, the Dolphins' pass defense has struggled to keep #1 WRs (21st) and #2 WRs (20th) in check, despite being 7th overall in pass defense. Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery are good plays here, especially since there's a good chance the Jets will be behind in this game.

Very Good Idea: Ronnie Brown
Pretty Good Idea: Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery
Intriguing Waiver Wire Fodder: n/a
Likely to Disappoint: n/a
Avoid: n/a

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Loser League All-Stars

QB: True story: when I was sent the Loser League spreadsheet this week with the worst performances, I e-mailed Aaron back and said, "You messed up Joey Harrington's numbers. He only has 20 yards passing." Aaron pointed me to the game page. Joey Harrington gets a -3 and is the Losingest Loser of the Week. Bring on Sir Cleo! And, believe it or not, David Carr wasn't very good this week. Throwing four interceptions when you're Chris Weinke against the Giants is one thing, but when you're throwing for 127 yards and no touchdowns in the process, it's probably Sage Rosenfels time. As for Philip Rivers, well, any quarterback can have a bad week. Everyone gets a 0 once in a while. Here's a question: if Rivers was eligible to be Rookie of the Year, should he be the favorite over Marques Colston? Or, alternately, would he even be the best rookie on his own offense?

RB: It's a sad week when no one earns a negative number out of the backfield. When no one even records an aught, though, you begin to wonder if there's some sort of anti-Loser League collusion going on. I don't want to point any fingers. The low score this week was a two! Thanks to Julius Jones for at least trying to suck. Runners-up were the usual suspects: Reuben Droughns, Cadillac Williams, Travis Henry, and a unusual suspect, Chester Taylor. If Droughns is out of the league next year, the Browns should have to wear a black patch with a 0 on their jerseys all year to signify the loss.

WR: Again, no negative numbers, no zeroes. Where are the two catches for nine yards and a fumble lines that make me love football? Instead, we have Marvin Harrison putting up a 26. Ugh. Four-way tie for first place this week with a point: Ernest Wilford, Dante Hall, Nate Burleson, and Antonio Bryant. One of these guys was immortalized in a weekly column, another had a Gatorade commercial, another will forever be associated with something that sounds like it came out of a video game, and one threw a sweaty jersey in Bill Parcells' mug. You pick your favorite.

K: Finally! Back to the direness I adore. Ryan Longwell's -1 is a simple line: one part successful extra point, one part missed field goal. It's not something you'd want to take home to your parents, no, but it's something to keep you going on a lonely night. He's got a way to go to catch the Mike Nugent Week 1 score, though. Right behind him are Olindo Mare and Sebastian Janikowski, both of whom did not step on the field outside of their lone kickoff and the post-game congratulatory handshakes. A conservative game plan, yes, but a sound one for ending up in Scramble.

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

This one is easy. This week's Keep Choppin' Wood Award goes to David Garrard, who "just loses games." Vince Young may have won again, but all he did was the one thing Garrard couldn't -- he protected the ball. Not only did Garrard throw three interceptions and lose one fumble, three of those turnovers were returned directly for scores in a game where the Tennessee offense couldn't do a thing, turning a wild card favorite into a wild card long shot. Congratulations David Garrard, you're this week's Keep Choppin' Wood Award winner!

Back to the Drawing Board Bets

Ian: (0-3 last week, 17-25-3 overall)

Twice this season I've gone 3-0. I followed up both weeks with 0-3 performances. What was I thinking taking three double-digit favorites in a season like this? Lesson learned -- it's all underdogs this week.

Minnesota (+3.0) over GREEN BAY

It's the Tarvaris Jackson coming out party. The Vikings defense may give up a big play or two to Double-D, but should contain both Favre and the running game enough to let T-Jack lead them to victory.

Philadelphia (+7.0) over DALLAS

No way Philly doesn't put up a serious fight with a division title on the line. Garcia will have his ups and downs, but the Philly defense has their swagger back and should do a good job of frustrating Tony Romo into a few key mistakes. Maybe not enough to win, but certainly enough to make it a close game and cover.

Tennessee (+4.5) over BUFFALO

I'm riding Vince Young until he lets me down.

Jinxedarrific Bets

Bill: (1-2 last week, 25-19-1 overall)

Good news is that I've clinched victory over Ian for the season since Ian will be on vacation the next two weeks. Bad news is [the person who I fondly spoke of quite frequently earlier in the season] has officially jinxed me.

Chicago (-4.5) over DETROIT

Are you kidding me? Really?

CLEVELAND (-3) over Tampa Bay

What's the point of starting a bad rookie with no confidence and letting him know before the start that he's on a short leash? Cleveland jumps out early and never looks back.

Baltimore (+3) over PITTSBURGH

Ben Roethlisberger against the Ravens.

Join us next week for the regular season's final Scramble during the equivalent of the NFL's Reading Week: Week 17! While Ian will be on a cruise ship in an undisclosed location, I, young Bill Barnwell, will be joined by This Week In Quotes impresario Alex Carnevale. Till next time.


137 comments, Last at 27 Dec 2006, 4:41pm

1 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Finals time! And boy do I have problems.

QB: Hasselbeck vs SD, Kitna vs. CHI or Carr vs. IND

RB: Addai @ HOU or McAllister @ NYG?

For 2 slots (TE and WR/TE flex): Winslow vs. TB, Cooley @ STL, Furrey vs. CHI, Muhammad @ DET or Evans vs. TEN?


2 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

"When Chicago beat Detroit 31-7 in Week 2, Williams still managed 6 catches for 71 yards."

Nitpick: The score of that game was 34-7.

3 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Two questions:
Do I go with Alex Smith over Hasselbeck? I'm also going to play Frank Gore, and I feel weird putting all my money on that powerful 49er offense, but it's gonna be a shootout against Arizona and I think there will be points to go around.

Also, I can choose 2 of Chris Cooley, Kellen Winslow, DJ Hackett, and Bernard Berrian.

4 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Re: 1

I think you should play H-beck over Kitna against Chicagos D and Carr. I'd play Addai over McAllister, and I have no idea who you should play amongst your TEs but you should put Lee Evans in.

5 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Re 1:

QB - Hasslebeck
RB - Addai
TE - Cooley
WR/T - Muhammad, Evans will have Pac-Man on him I would think.

Re 3:

Hasslebeck, Berrian, Cooley

6 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

I think I'd be wary of using Thomas Jones, as he's been playing with a nagging ankle injury, and then bruised his ribs in last week's game. Since the Bears have absolutely nothing to play for, I'd expect him to be used sparingly.

Of course, that also means Benson should get more carries, but who knows, maybe Adrian Peterson will get those carries...

8 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Anybody know if Gradkowski had enough attempts to avoid the Loser League penalty? I forget what the cutoff is. Hopefully Frye gets back on the field, or I'll be taking the QB penalty for the last 2 weeks. (Although, with Johnson, Brunell, Bledsoe, Gradkowski, Frye, and Walter all sitting, I doubt I'll be the only one!)

9 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

What do people think about going with KC's D against Oakland? So far, picking a defense that's going against Oakland is a good move in terms of points, but I'm not sure if it's better than another option like Miami or Minnesota.

10 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Barber has scored a TD in every Dallas win, for whatever that means to you. Trust Barber 3.

12 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Chicago has allowed a fair amount of stuff to #1 wideouts, by *fantasy* standards anyway. Maybe it's because teams force-feed the alpha dog when they're down 20 in the third and fourth quarter.

13 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

a few questions. First, my commisioner is a first year commish and a dumbass, therefore he made the title decided over two weeks for 16 and 17. So if the Chargers win in week 16, so I start LT in week 17?
Second my other backs are Frank Gore and Willie Parker, both have tough matchups, who would you go with?
Third. pick three Wideouts Donald Driver, Torry Holt, Plaxico Burress, Roy Williams. (eight team league btw no way I'd have this in a deep league)
Can anyone help? My opponent has Peyton, westbrook and the ravens D so I gotta get these picks right for Week 16, cause if I don't jump out to an early lead, I'm dead if Lt is benched.

14 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

WR/RB slot: D. Henderson, Kennison, Muhammad, or D. Foster? Leaning towards Muhammad, like his chances of doing something against DET D, let me know if you think I should do otherwise, thanks

15 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

I think more people should suck it up with Week 17. Adjust. Find sleepers or rentals. So you can't blindly play your overlords some of the time, so what? Shrewd owners can make it work.

A lot of weaker owners hate the bye weeks, too. But not the sharpies.

16 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

one thing to add. if in Week 17 Lt does get benched, would Michael turner be a good play?

17 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Tennessee's won their last 5 outright while being underdogs -- how rare is that?

Also, a fantasy question that won't matter, because I'm in a dynasty league final going against LT, Rudi, and Shaun (and he can start all 3): Since Darrell Jackson's still hurt, who should I start in his place -- Brandon Jones, Joe Jurevicius, or Nate Burleson (ST points don't count)? The free agent pool is closed for the playoffs, unfortunately...

(And thanks to KUBIAK for Chris Cooley!)

18 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#8: Well, everyone except the Oakland Miasma of Suck (which attempted to take all of the Oakland Raiders as a LL team), which has both Oakland QBs. If Moss and Jordan hadn't gone down, that team would've been un-freaking-stoppable.

19 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Reason for the small spread on CHI/DET is the Bears have nothing to play for. They can sit their D for the rest of the season.

20 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Re 16:

I already picked up Michael Turner and the NYJ defense (playing OAK) for Week 17, that is how to get it done in Week 17, people really should suck it up.

21 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

The problem with week 17 is that not all players have to Sit their overlords. Like I rode to the Finals with LT, he rode their with Peyton.
If in week 17 he gets to start Peyton and Lt gets benched, I'm at a pretty big disadvantage, thats why week 17 is a dumb week for a title game.

22 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#14 I've been wondering about Muhammad too. Dre Bly covered him last match-up and he did not do well. Unfortunately for me I have no better options (cept for maybe Curry).

I have a fantasy question: pick one D


23 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#1: QBs...ugh. I don't think you can play Kitna, even with the Chi D resting, but if you really need a home run I think he's your only choice. Otherwise I'd likely go with Hass, though he's not looked great and the weather isn't great here. RBs, go with Addai as long as he's healthy. WR, I'd go with Winslow and Evans. Evans has been a monster so far, and Ten, while having a good season, is not the best ever there.

#3: I think I'd take Smith over Hass. Also, Winslow/Hackett. Berrian won't be playing that much, I'd imagine.

#7: probably winslow; he's more likely to score a TD of the two in that matchup.

#11: Hackett - easily.

#14: You don't have a RB other than Foster? Muhammad isn't a bad start, but he'll probably be going against Bly, so I'd probably go with Henderson.

24 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Oh, right, my question: who to start as QB? Hass vs SD, Garcia vs Dallas, or Romo vs Philly? I don't like any of the options, honestly, but I'm thinking of Garcia if only because he's likely to throw to Westbrook and get scores that way more than Romo is likely to throw to Barber or Jones. Or should i pick up Anderson vs TB or Leinart vs SF?

25 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Quick fantasy question, do you think MB3 is worth starting over either Willie Parker or Brian Westbrook? I have my doubts, and seeing as it's the final, the consequences could be disasterous if Julius Jones takes all his carries.

26 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#25: definitely not over Westbrook. Possibly over Parker. Baltimore still has plenty to play for and in their first matchup Parker ran for a mighty 22 yards and no scores. Even if Jones does get the majority of the carries - unlikely given what Parcells said and how well he did against the Falcons - Barber will almost certainly get any goal line carries.

27 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#24 Hass. I always like going with my best/most consistent for the playoffs.

28 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#27: So far, sadly, Romo's been more consistent than Hass. But I see your point. I don't want to pick up anyone on waivers to replace him.

It probably won't matter, but between how bad Hass looked against SF (admittedly, in bad weather conditions) and how good SD looked against Green, I'm a bit wary.

29 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

TE question:

I've been starting Heath Miller, and he's been killing me. I refuse to start him against the Ravens this week, since I'm sure he's going to be doing a lot of blocking. Here are my WW options:

Robert Royal (vs. Ten)
Chris Baker (@ Mia)
Jermaine Wiggins (@ GB)

Royal's been hot, but I'm not sure he's a regular part of the passing attack. Baker's probably the safest bet, but he's also the lowest-upside, in my view. Wiggins probably has the best matchup, but he's also low-upside and I don't know that he's any better than Baker.

30 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

So I'm in a salary cap league and I can pick any Defense I want. This week looks painful. Chicago looks like the obvious choice going against the horrid Lions, but no Tank, Tommie, etc... plus homefield is wrapped up with a bow. I love pickng against the Raiders, but KC isn't the stoutest D. I like NE against Garrard, but Jax is another team at home. Baltimore seems like a good play, but Pitt is still in this and at home and have see the Ravens once this year. There are some other sneaky plays out there that could backfire. Any thoughts? I really NEED help this week!

31 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Man, the betting public must love Dallas and Pittsburgh, there can be no other explanation for these lines. Isn't -3 points generally considered the home field advantage? If so, Pitt and Balt are equal teams, and Dallas is substantially better than Philly.
re: 19
Ah, that line makes much more sense. The Bears backups will probably still kill the Lions, though.

32 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

22: Packers. No question.
24: I'd go with someone in that Phi/Dal game, and probably . . . well, it's tough. But one of them.
25: Start him over Parker. I would not start FWP against that defense.

My Questions:
Pennington @ MIA or Rivers @ SEA?,
RBrown (or SMorris) v NYJ or THenry @ BUF?
GB D/ST v MIN, or PHL D @ DAL?

34 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

re: 30
The Rams defense is considerably worse than KC, and they shut out Oakland last week. I picked up KC last week just for this game.

35 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Well, I made the finals in my league but it looks like it could get ugly. I've got unattractive options everywhere:

QB: H-beck or Romo (Leaning towards Romo)

RB1: S. Jackson

RB2: Bush, Cadillac, or Maroney (I just can't imagine putting Cad in there over Bush)

WR: Walker and Driver both have shoulder issues, D-Jackson is out, so Muhammad is in. Ugh.

TE: Gates or KW2 (gotta go with Gates, right? ... Right?)

DEF: Baltimore or New England (Balt)

36 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

At QB:

Alex Smith
Rex Grossman

Favre got me -3 points in my playoff game last week against Detroit. Romo has been downgraded by about everyone against Philidelphia, Hasselbeck has done nothing lately and is against SD. Both Alex Smith and Rex Grossman are free agents. Dare I take a chance with Rex against Detroit that shut down Favre last week?

37 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

My championship game is this week. What should I do? Should I go with Hasselbeck vs. San Diego, Weinke vs. Atlanta, or Rattay vs. Cleveland?

38 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

I agree with the general questions about the Bears-Lions line. The Bears can't possibly have enough backups to lower their team's quality to that of the healthy Lions' players.

morganja, I like Alex Smith against Arizona. I don't think Rex will have to throw many passes against Detroit.

39 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

I got Shaun Alexander and LT at RB, but need one more.

Ron Dayne v IND
Travis Henry v BUF did not practice today
Jamal Lewis v Pitt
Tatum Bell v CIN

40 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Good Lord. Have you seen Weinke play? He had 5 interceptions dropped against the Giants. Plus the three they hung on to. He got pulled at the end of last game. I'm not even sure he is going to start over the rookie from Northwestern this weekend. Hasselbeck has to be the safe choice there. No telling what Gruden's done to Rattay's confidence the past three days.

41 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

The problem with week 17 is that not all players have to sit their overlords.

Very true. But not everyone has a bye at the same time, either. Not everyone stays in the game when his team is down 28 points. Not everyone plays in a dome. Not everyone gets to attack the NFC West. Not everyone hits in Coors Field. Not everyone gets a terrible call in their favor. Not everyone has a forthcoming coach who tells the truth about roles and injuries. I think fantasy owners think they're lowering variance when they take Week 17 out. I think you're making the playing field more true when you add more marking periods, so long as you're not doing something silly like counting preseason games, say. For my money, just use all the games they give you and let the chips fall where they may.

End rant. Good luck to everyone in their finals or semifinals. And, umm, so long as I have ya'll here, Romo or Brees, how would you play it this week?

42 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Brees has the easier matchup and much more likely to be in a high scoring shootout. He is my opponent for the championship game and I'm more than a little worried. Dallas might just run all day on Philly and try to win it without throwing much at all.

44 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

I will also ask for some advice:
QB: Hasselbeck or Vick
RB: L. Johnson, F. Gore or B. Westbrook (2)

Whenever I choose Hasselbeck or Vick the other has a monster day so I am somewhat hesitent to decide. QB scores 1 point/50 passing yards and all TD are worth 6 points.

45 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

40 - he didn't get pulled, he got sat down. Pittsburgh pulled Roethlisberger and Parker one drive before Basanez came in, because the game wasn't a contest any more.

46 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Sat down or pulled. Either way, the Panthers are wondering what to do about their backup next year, Weinke is 34, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them put Basanez in to see what he can do if Weinke isn't lighting it up.

47 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

It's finals time, and it's LT vs. Manning. Roster, schmoster.

QB: Rex, Rivers, or Rasselbeck
WR: Braylon + one of Kennison, Santonio or Andre Johnson
RB: LT + 2 of Bush, Lewis or Jacobs
TE: V. Davis (or Ben Watson... *sigh*)

Def: Oakland over Philly

Any cluebats welcome. Thanks as always.

48 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Oh, and #25, 26 - prior to last week Parker was a beast at home and lousy away (the Steelers are at Heinz Field this week), though whether that was cause or effect of the Steelers being 5-2 at home and 2-5 away I have no idea despite watching most of the games.

The Ravens are "only" 13th at runs around Left End and 10th at runs at Right Tackle, which are both good things for an outside speed runner like Parker provided that Whisenhunt remembers this and doesn't call every run up the middle like he seemed to do in the first game. Of course, everything really depends on whether the Steelers remember to take their line onto the field with them this time, which is almost entirely unknowable. But they can't be that bad twice...can they?

49 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#47: I think you have to go with Johnson at WR (the other two options have horrible matchups). Oakland at D is going to be bad - LJ doesn't fumble that much, they won't be passing that often (so not many sacks/ints) and they'll be just handing the ball off a lot. Might not be high scoring, but little points on fantasy. Philly is more likely to get sacks and turnovers. I'd also go with Bush and Lewis; Jacobs got something like no carries after he fumbled.

50 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Ok here we go...

QB: Vick (v. Carolina) or Hasselback (v. SD)

WR: The Chad (v. Denver), Stallworth (v. Dallas), Colston (v. NYG), Henderson (v. NYG)

Muchos, muchos gracias!

51 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

OK, so, MB3 or Gore? I'm playing against the Manning/Chad Johnson/Westbrook team (ugh). I start Romo at QB, LT at the other RB slot, Fitz/Wayne/Walker at the 3 WRs, and Gates at TE. (Yes, this is an auction league.)

I am leaning Gore because he'll get carries and I have nightmares about MB3 two weeks ago (2 carries for -1 yard). Under our scoring system Gore is just 8 points behind MB3. Gore is the smart play, right? Right?

53 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Two Leagues.

QBs: Hasselbeck vs. SD or Favre vs. MIN

QBs: Favre vs. MIN or Rivers @ SEA

Everybody picks MIN apart through the air, so I'm leaning towards Favre in both, especially since SD's pass rush might ruin Hasselbeck's day (and since he's missing D-Jack).

54 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

51- I'd go woth Gore.

Here's my dilemma. It's quite long.

QB- Jeff Garcia, or Jason Campbell? I picked both up off waivers this week. I'm leaning towards Campbell.

RB- Tomlinson, for sure... then I get to choose between Michael Turner, Ronnie Brown, Sammy Morris, or Ron Dayne. I have Dayne penciled in right now, because of Indy's D. But I really don't know what to do here. Basically, I'm really concerned that I have 2 injured stud running backs. If they both get few carries, I'm screwed.

55 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

54: I think Brown is supposed to start, if he is definitely go with him. Unfortunate for you that the game isn't until Mon night so you may find out late, but in the case he's not going Morris isn't a bad play against the NYJ.

56 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

I'd go with Brown there too. The problem with Dayne is that Houston are likely to find themselves a long way behind rather rapidly, and Brown is supposed to be fit and also playing NYJ, who are apparently even worse than the Colts at defending the run (so sayeth DVOA).

57 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

lineup suggestions would be much appreciated:
1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 flex, 1 D from the following--

QB: Hasselback (SD) or Leinart (SF)
RB: Frank Gore (ARI), Ronnie Brown (Jets), Ron Dayne (IND)
WR: Donald Driver (MIN), Marvin Harrison (HOU), Larry Fitz (SF), and Jerricho Cotcherty (MIA)
DEF: NE (vs. Jax), Oak (vs. KC), Min (vs. GB)


58 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Question #1

QBs: 2 out of Favre (Min), Big Ben (Bal), Garcia (@ Dall). Alternatively, I could pick up Losman (Ten), Campbell (@ StL), or Anderson (TB) off the waiver wire.

My inclination is to go with Favre and either Losman or Campbell.

Question #2

WR: Santana Moss (@ StL) or Muhammad (@ Det)

Question #3

TE: Heap (@ Pitt) or Cooley (@ StL)

59 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Three questions...

Ronnie Brown or Maurice Jones-Drew?
Lee Evans or Javon Walker?
J.P. Losman or Jason Campbell?

60 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

A lot of questions about Hasselbeck. I'm in the same boat. How does everyone see that SD-SEA game playing out? The preview notes that San Diego could get ahead enough that Turner is a good play, but then labels Alexander a Very Good Idea. It would seem that if Seattle is likely to fall behind, Hasselbeck would be the better play. How do people see that game playing out?

61 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#60: I see Seattle dying a horrible death similar to how they lost to Chicago. Maybe worse. I'm not sure. I don't see Alexander having a good day in any case; they'll be playing behind.

#59: Ronnie Brown, easy. Dunno about the others, but I'd lean towards Javon Walker.

#58: Try Anderson and Garcia. Also try Moss over Muhammad (Bly vs Muhammad with nothing to play for? Ugh). Also go with Heap; he had a good day the last time and STL is decent vs. TEs, though it's a tough choice.

62 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

The meandering morass of mediocrity that is my wide receiving corps needs to be manhandled into magnificence. Start 3. 6pts per TD, 1 pt if over 100 yards.

The middling marauders: Santana Moss, Roy Williams, Mark Clayton, Antonio Bryant, Brandon Lloyd, DJ Hackett, Patrick Crayton, Vernon Davis. Chad Jackson and Wes Welker are just taking up space.

I think I have narrowed it down to Moss, Williams, Clayton, Hackett and Davis.

I need WR points. My opponent has Manning going against the Texans.

63 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

ps- whoever recommended adblock to get rid of those annoying underline ads here: THANK YOU.

64 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Two questions:

Defenses: Is Pittsburgh Vs. Baltimore a good start? The homefield advantage and the fact that McNair's hand is hurt so bad they are talking of avoiding taking snaps under center would seem to suggest that no one is scoring in the game. The league for that one has defense points heavily dependent upon how many points the opposing offense scores.

In another league with points not so dependent on the scoring, I am thinking of starting Green Bay vs. Tarvaris Jackson, the Frozen Hands of the Purple-Clad WRs, and the Minnesota Vikings. At the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau. Do you see my logic? They ought to have eight-in-the-box on every play and force Tarvaris Jackson to beat them.

My second question: In one of the leagues I'm in the championship is in week 17. I already know I likely need to come up with a replacement for Philip Rivers and LT then. What teams, other that the powerhouse offense of the Bears, are likely to sit starters in Week 17? This includes teams that can clinch HFA next week and teams that can clinch their division but cannot get a first-round bye (Think Cincinnati and New England last year). I'm also worried of teams that have clinched a wild-card by week 17 but can't clinch the division and will not try to split the difference between #5 and #6. It's probably not possible to predict right now, but ome teams with 4 PM or evening games on week 17 may sit starters because an earlier game clinched their playoff spot.

Looking at the NFC, the Saints could be locked into the #2 seed after this week, which could lead to Seattle resting starters in Week 17 if they clinch the divison this week.

65 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Not long ago, somebody posted a link to a serious paper about how bookies beat common fans. Can anyone repost it please?

66 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Vince Young v. Buffalo or Hasselbeck v. San Diego?

1 point for 50 yards passing, 6 pts for passing TDs, -2 for interceptions
1 point for 20 yards rushing, 6 pts for rushing TDs

67 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

I'm leery of Ronnie Brown after not playing for so long; Morris has been passable and could steal 8-12 touches, no? Not that Brown is bad as a deep 2 or a flex play this week, but I wouldn't be running to him in his first game back, even with the matchup on the table.

69 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

66, I think the likely Young ground production gives him the edge in your format. VY is still developing as a passer and has a long way to go, but FF is a numbers racket and those ground yards really pack a punch. Unscientific addition: he's scoring every other week and this is his "on" week. Plus, heck, only the Jags have made him look bad of late.

70 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed


Started the season with LT, Portis, Maroney, T Bell & Turner.

Sacrificed at other positions to get depth at RB, as this league has 12 teams and usually around 60 RBs are taken. (ended up with Delhomme and Brees at QB, Ward & Smith at WR)

Week 4, traded Bell for Reggie Wayne
Week 11, dropped Portis and grabbed Norwood (best option)
Week 15, grabbed Griffith once Norwood was hurt
Week 16, grabbed Houston to give me more options

So...I start 2 RBs, and LT is one. Is the other?

- Maroney at Jax - DNP last week, and may not play this week
- Norwood vs Car - DNP last week, unsure on Dunn/Norwood/Griffith
- Griffith vs Car - on my bench last week, see above
- Houston at Mia - not likely to burst out, but will be ok I think
- Turner at Sea - backup RB but insurance if LT sits if its a blowout, could possible outperform others anyway even in limited role.


71 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Gradkowski getting benched just destroyed any chance I had of my Loser League team doing well. My QBs are Walter and Gradkowski. I'd imagine Brad Johnson getting benched hurt a lot of people also.

73 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Flex question:

Pick two of Reggie Brown, Chris Cooley and Reggie Bush. Right now Bush is the odd man out based on matchups (PPR league).

I'm pretty much a lock to win the league (this is one of those "17 week, no playoff" leagues), but I want to rub it in their faces.

74 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

As someone who tapes every Charger game and happens to enjoy that which occurs at the line of scrimmage, I'd say that Marcus McNeill has been a better left tackle than Philip Rivers has been a quarterback. I'm of the opinion that he's the obvious choice for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

75 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

I wonder if Nick Mangold would have any ROY support if OL guys were getting their due attention. I've seen a lot of NY snaps, not enough to justly say. Obviously he's turned out, to this point, to be a very wise selection.

76 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Nick Mangold's been good but not ROY worthy from what I've seen. Stats are pretty concurrent: Jets are 23rd at running to the middle of the field. San Diego's first at running to left end and fifth to left tackle. McNeil is a beast.

77 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

New England and Jacksonville are #1 and #2 in points allowed for the entire year, and Jax allows less than 10 per game at home...avoid this game at all costs, at least as far as fantasy football goes. Of course, that sounds like logical thought about a Jaguars game so it'll probably be a shootout.

78 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

I'm sitting Branch and picking up and playing Hackett in my championship because of you Bill.

80 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Re #78, go moss, williams, davis

redskins and 49ers are likely to end up in a shootout and i think kitna's going to force the ball to williams a lot, and they'll almost certainly be behind and throwing from an early stage

81 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

still have the same TE question. I think I'm down to Robert Royal, George Wrighster, Ben Utecht and maybe Jermaine Wiggins. Anyone out there have any thoughts?

83 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

72: The thing about the Eagles offense is that people get shut out of the passing game all the time. Isn't Bush the better upside pick?
68: Barber
66: VY. Hass has not demonstrated start-worthiness.
62: Moss, Williams and Hackett.

My questions (#32)
Pennington @ MIA or Rivers @ SEA?
And assuming that I have to lock it in by Sunday morning, and can't change RBs Monday night, do I go with RBrown (or SMorris) v NYJ, or THenry @ BUF?

84 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

re #83, i'd go pennington at MIA, Jets still have a shot at the division title and therefore should be pumped up for this game, coles is playing as well as any WR in the league right now and the Miami D didn't look great last week.
Also, T Henry is easily the best choice at RB, Bills are 29th vs the run and whilst the Titans offence didn't click last week Henry's form is an overlooked factor in the Titans form due to all the aclaim VY is getting

85 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Less likely to get screwed by:

Romo or Rivers?
Thomas Jones or Chester Taylor?


86 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Hmmmmm, 85 made me think of another question...

Who would you least like to have screw you, Thomas Jones or Chester Taylor......

87 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery are good plays here, especially since there’s a good chance the Jets will be behind in this game.

There is? The Jets have won 5 of the last 6 meetings, they spanked Miami early in the year (the game got close during garbage time) and Miami is trotting out a quarterback who just posted a 0.0 qb rating in his last game. What reason is there to expect the Jets will be behind?

88 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Re 76: Check me if I'm wrong, but I believe McNeil has LT and Michael Turner running behind him and Mangold has backs on the caliber of Kevan Barlow and Cedric Houston. Just a small difference.

Clearly McNeil has played well, but I can't shake that first game against Kansas City when Jared Allen absolutely destroyed him. I could see a similar performance by Dwight Freeney sending San Diego home come playoff time.

89 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

I'm finally in the championship round (after getting bounced in the semis two straight years). And admittedly, some of my team is all set (I have Brees, Ronnie Brown, Marvin Harrison, and Tomlinson).

But the problem is in the wideout position. Other than Harrison being a lock as a starter, I've got to pick a second wideout, a tight end, and a WR/TE flex spot.

Other than the injured Javon Walker, I have Roy Williams, Donte Stallworth, Desmond Clark, and Jason Whitten. Receivers get a point per reception in addition to the standard yards and touchdowns points.

Should I go with some combination of the above (I was thinking Williams in WR, Whitten as the flex, and Clark as the TE), or should I scour the waiver wires for another wideout?

90 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#89 - I think you've got the lineup I'd go with, but it can't hurt to look around.

OK, my game's only for bragging rights, but those are important, too. We start 2 QBs. I've got Palmer, Romo and Favre. With the possible injury to Palmer, I'm thinking about Favre, but it sounds like the weather won't be good. I could also pick up Losman as a FA. Any thoughts?

92 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed


Just an addition to my original question. My opponent is starting Lee Evans. Would that potentially bump up Losman's value enough to consider starting?

93 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed


Rivers is very unlikely to play as badly against the Seahawks as he did against the Chiefs.

Even if the Bears are playing their starters, Benson is likely to get most of the handoffs to rest Jones. Go with Taylor if he is healthy.

94 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed


All the points you made are (kinda) true. The Jets didn't really spank the Dolphins, they made about two big plays.

As for Harrington, he definitely had a 0.0 rating last week. And Tom Brady was terrible the week before. One game makes a QB not. Harrington's been solid this season especially considering he's been stuck with Chris Chambers.

And sure, McNeil's backs are better than Mangold's. There's still a difference between top 5 and mid 20's. That's not just backs.

95 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#91: Definitely get Cutler at Arizona. I think he'll score 2 TDs and pass for a good amount of yards. In fact, I'll be so bold as to predict that he'll throw a beauty 50 yard bomb to Javon Walker on a bootleg that we'll be talking about the week after.

98 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Thanks for the input, #90 - and when Wes Welker is in the top five of the available wideouts in my league, I think I gotta go with what I have.

As for your game, I'd probably go with Palmer as your second - I don't trust either Favre or Losman.

Also, for #91, I'd also go with Cutler. I think Shanny is viewing the 'Zona game as a "confidence builder" for Cutler, which means letting him air it out even when it's not necessary. That fact has me still tempted into starting Javon Walker despite the fact that his shoulder was relocated to new and exciting locations in his body.

99 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Whats the recomendations for Quarterback this week?

Peyton Manning
Drew Brees
and then who?

101 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed


The score was 20-3 with 9:00 left in the game and Miami got all their scores in while the Jets were playing a soft defense. And again, the last five times the teams have played, Miami won once. By four. Against Brooks Bollinger. I'm still not seeing a reason to expect that the Jets are going to be playing catchup.

As for the Harrington-Brady comparison...well, I'm stunned to see the two of them compared in any way, but fine. Joey Harrington had a bad game, just like Tom Brady did the week before. Of course, on the season Brady has posted a DPAR of 59 and a DVOA of 15.8%, while Harrington has posted a DPAR of 6.6 and a terrible, terrible DVOA of -9.2%. In fact, Harrington's season has essentially been a poster child for this kind of stat tracking, since he's put up a lot of yardage thanks to a high attempt number, but he has been ineffective on a play-by-play basis. (And let's be frank about Brady's "bad game." Brady routinely gets shut down by the Dolphins in Miami. At this point, it's more of a truism that Brady can't play in Miami than it is that Mannig can't play in New England. Brady has won a few ugly, defensive heavy games down there that have spared him egg on his face, but the reality is that he's had six cracks at the Dolphins in Miami and he's been terrible in every one of them. Even with the personnel changes and the coaching changes, Miami consistently matches up well with Brady. Kind of like the Jets do with Miami.)

As for the lineman issue, I think it's fairly silly to use ALY to try to draw comparisons between left tackles and centers, but if you're going to do that, you need to at least take how teams play into context. The Jets simply don't run up the middle except during short yardage plays. They run pulls on almost every running play, usually with Pete Kendall and Sean Ryan doing the pulling. Their entire running game is designed to go from left to right, which is why they are 31st in the league in runs off the left side, 23rd in runs up the gut and 2nd in runs off right tackle. It's got nothing to do with Anthony Clement and everything to do with the scheme of the offense. If you want to make the argument that the team would run straight ahead more if they trusted Mangold, I suppose you could make it, but the reality is that Mangold isn't asked to be the focal point of the run game any more than Nick Hardwick is (I notice a rather large discrepency between San Diego's interior numbers and the off-tackle numbers to both sides).

And as for the backs...well, LT's DVOA is 25.1%. Michael Turner's DVOA is 45.6%. Last year Tomlinson played hurt and was less effective, but he still posted a 14.5% DVOA, while Turner put up another stellar mark, a 27.9%. They were good backs before McNeil got there and they're good backs now. The Jets have had one effective performer in Leon Washington- he's posted a 15.9% DVOA in limited action. Beyond that, they've got Cedric Houston (-2.7%) and Kevan Barlow (-11.1%). Those players last year without Mangold? Houston (2.0%), Barlow (-23.0%).

There is indeed a difference between top five and middle twenties. San Diego has two top five caliber running backs. The Jets don't even have marginal running backs. Marcus McNeil and Nick Mangold don't have too much to do with it.

(And note that none of this is to suggest that Nick Mangold is the ROY. I don't think he is. But the rationale for distancing McNeil's performance from Mangold has been kind of fatuous.)

102 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

whoops misread the schedule :p. Glad everyone got a good laugh out of it. But anyways Hasselbeck At Sd, or Cutler at Cincy.

104 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#102: I actually like Cutler. I think they'll be playing a bit behind and that Cinci's DBs are not the best when it comes to defending the deep ball. He might be picked, but if Walker's starting, he's a good start.

105 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed


The Dolphins were moving the ball on the Jets defense with ease, "soft" defense or not.

Furthermore, they were a makeable - 51 yards - field goal away from tying the game and taking it to overtime. Mare missed, of course, but it's not as if they weren't in danger. The only reason they didn't get closer was because of a terrible Nick Saban play call on 3rd and 2. Granted, Nick Saban will be calling the plays again.

The Jets fumbled three times. They recovered all of them. Miami fumbled twice. The Jets fell on one of them. Was that because the Jets were too dominating and the Dolphins were intimidated? Come on.

A -9.2% DVOA isn't terrible, terrible. It's 27th in football. Is that great? No. Is that good enough to say that a really, really awful day like he had last week wasn't typical? Yup.

I have seen my fair share of Jets games this year -- in fact, every one short last week -- and it's a little ridiculous to say they NEVER run up the middle outside of short-yardage. They do, it's just that Barlow tries to cut a ton of runs back and Washington is a similar style runner.

Furthermore, center is almost universally proclaimed to be a significantly easier position than left tackle.

And if adjusted line yards is a bad way of pointing out that McNeill might be better than Mangold, well, pointing out that the running backs McNeill plays with are better is pretty ridiculous. Edgerrin James can fill you in. And comparing the Jets performance to last year, when they had a significantly worse QB?

I don't know Sean. I'm just thinking back to the Four Downs on the AFC East where I wrote that the Jets were going to draft Ferguson and Mangold and you insisted they weren't and were going to draft a quarterback and, to be honest, I'm a little skeptical.

106 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Start two: Hasselbeck,Romo,V.Young,D Anderson (My opponent has T.O.; does that sway the balance against Romo w/ 1 point every 40yds passing and 4 for td passes? as opposed to 1pt for 10yds rec and 6 for tds and 1pt for recpts. for Wr's?)
Start three: Andre Johnson, Hackett, D. Henderson, Jurevicius, R. Curry, Moose Muhammad. Any thoughts much appreciated.

107 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Ronnie Brown practiced Thursday and while all appears okay, he also told the Palm Beach Post that he expects Sammy Morris to start aganst the Jets. It doesn't mean anything until Saban commits, of course (and who's to say who gets the heavy share of the work), but just keep an eye out. Click name for newspaper article link.

108 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#103 - Nobody played Favre in our FFL last night, but I think it was the first time all season both the Packers and Vikings defenses were played the same week.

109 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

#105: Wow. To clarify: if someone gets their guess wrong regarding who their team will draft in the first round, then their thought-process is worthy of skepticism? Because it would have been utterly foolish for that team, then with no viable option at QB, to have taken Leinart or Cutler instead of Ferguson? Or because anyone who gets their team's first-round pick wrong is worthy of skepticism?

Bill, do you ever re-read your comments? If not, I invite with all good intention in the world to do so, because I don't have to go back to pre-draft to continually find things you've written that invites more than a little skepticism of your thoughts on football. There, now I'm as poor at making my point as you are. Hurrah.

Shiny red front for everyone!

110 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

F'n Brett Favre interception costs my Packers D ten points by denying them the shutout. ARGH. I benched my Eagles for this?

111 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

C'mon, Bill. I love you, but to say Harrington is stuck with Chambers? We know now that you were right and that Chmabers isn't as good as he was made out to be, but man, don't push it!

113 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

70- ick. Houston would be my choice unless there is specific news about Norwood that makes him seem wise.

114 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed


That was the last time I talked with Sean about the Jets. He was equally as insistent then. That's why. I suppose the alternate solution would be to ignore the past.

I appreciate your method of disagreeing slightly more Noah. :) I mean, in all fairness, the dude IS the worst wide receiver in football according to DPAR by a giant margin, and second-to-worst by DVOA.

116 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Re: 115
They probably are better off not playing. Does IND defense get credit for a shut-out?

117 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed


You've got to be kidding. The Dolphins first six possessions in that game ended with a punt, an interception, an interception, a punt, getting stopped on downs and a punt. Their two long scoring drives took place in the fourth quarter when they were down 20-3 and then 20-10, respectively, and the Jets were rushing three and playing soft coverage. Yes, the Dolphins got hot at the end and put themselves in a position to tie the game, and that's reason to question the defensive strategy in the fourth quarter, but seriously now. It was 20-3 in the fourth quarter. When you blow a 20-3 lead in the fourth, you are accussed (rightly) of having collapsed, not of having just engaged in a tight, even game that you just happened to be up three scores in.

Is having the 27th DVOA in football "solid?" I believe that's the term you used for Harrington's play this season. Again, his DVOA was -9.2%. Which is to say that he is only a minor boon to the defense when he's on the field. (Just to put that number in perspective, Culpepper posted a -9.5% DVOA when he was on the field.)

Harrington hasn't been a disaster. But I wouldn't project that a return to form by him is going to make him the reason why Miami should be expected to put up the points. And that's without taking any soft factors into account, like the fact that the crowd is going to be on him and the cameras are going to be panning to shots of Cleo Lemon on the sidelines after every missed throws. Joey hasn't responded too well to that sort of pressure in the past.

It's not like I'm an indignant homer who wants to see nothing but good things written about his team. I just don't see anything, either in your initial post or in any of your responses to support the notion that the Jets will likely be playing from behind.

Oh, and thank you, Rick. Really- thinking that the Jets were likely to take a quarterback instead of Ferguson demonstrates, what, exactly? That I wasn't basing my guess on whatever USA Today happened to be printing? Or that I came to different conclusions from you based on our each having the same complete lack of information about the health of Chad Pennington? Oh, and as soon as Leinart started to slip, the Jets started working the phones hard to move up to get him- they came close to putting a deal in place with Detroit. If they had pulled that off and taken Leinart instead of Mangold, would that suddenly have made your or my take on a regular season game any more or less insightful? Or would it be completely and utterly irrelevant? (Hint, hint.)

The Jets run very seldomly up the gut. They really don't. When they are calling running plays within the flow of the gameplan (as opposed to situational calls like draws or short yardage dives), they nearly always pull Kendall to the right, and usually have either Ryan or Askew pulling as well. It's how they run their offense. If I was to just stare at that chart instead of actually breaking down game film on the team, I would deduce that Anthony Clement is actually the best Jets lineman. But he's not the reason why the line stats break down the way they do- the reason is the scheme of the offense and the effectiveness of the guard pulls by Kendall. Which is to say that conclusions should be made by looking at the actual games and then seeing how the numbers reflect what you see.

But I realize that can be hard when you live on the East Coast and only get to see the Patriots play...

118 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Which of the following quarterbacks should I start in my final game this weekend?

Rivers (at Sea), Hasselbeck (SD), Roethlisberger (Bal), Green (at Oak). [Yes, I have four QBs on my roster and no, I don't know why]

Waiver options include Anderson (TB) and Cutler (Cin).

Any suggestions?

119 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Dodged the Favre kool-aid last night. Is Garcia really the best option out of:

Garcia against Dallas 22 pass 8 rush
Grossman against Detroit 28 pass 27 rush
Romo against PHI 7 pass 17 rush
Hasselbeck against SD 8 pass 16 rush

Garcia seems like he has the obvious passing situation. Grossman has a terrible opponent which made Favre look bad last week. And Grossman is Grossman. Romo looks like a running game for Dallas as does Hasselbeck for Seattle.

Any thoughts or anything I'm missing?

120 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed


I don't doubt that the Jets were playing better than the Dolphins for 2/3rds of the game. I do doubt that they were performing significantly better, which is why I brought up the facts that I did. The stuff that happened in the fourth quarter matters just as much as the first three. Are the Jets up 20-3 in that game if they recover two of the five fumbles as opposed to four? Three? I doubt it.

Having the 27th-ranked DVOA in football for a QB shows at the very least, competence. It doesn't show that he's a star, absolutely, but you said, "Miami is trotting out a quarterback who just posted a 0.0 qb rating in his last game". This implies that Harrington will do this again or at least be similar. I am pointing out that this would be quite absurd because his performance, even including this 0.0 QB rating failure, is enough to be the 27th-ranked QB in the league on a per-play basis. Guys who are that good do not put up 0.0 ratings or similar, especially when they're playing the 24th best pass defense in football this week, not the 10th.

I am guessing also that this isn't going to be the first time Harrington has had a crowd on him. It's not as if he's going to walk into the stadium, realize the crowd doesn't like him, and then curl up into a ball. It's Week 16 in Miami. I'm guessing the crowd will be slightly less fervent than Detroit or - even - New Jersey.

I also fail to see how Harrington is going to see the camera panning to Cleo Lemon.

I harken back to Draft Day because, Sean, you dismissed what I had to say in the same exact situation with an equal level of authority to that which you're employing now. Is it totally relevant? Nah. Is it entirely irrelevant? I don't think so.

That's also a pretty snide comment about me only seeing the Patriots play, and it's in fact incorrect -- I've gone out of my way to see all but one of the Jets games this season. I agree with you in that the Jets do run a majority of their plays to the right side of the line, but I think we're splitting hairs -- I'm saying that they're not stretching it like the Colts every play, but do keep it more on the interior part of the line.

You're still trying to make some sort of argument that the left tackle on the team with the best overall adjusted line yards in football -- in which they have exhibited exceptional performance behind the left side -- is not as good of a player as the center on the team with the 23rd best adjusted line yards in the league.

No one's saying Mangold's not a good player - I really like his performance a lot. But it's just a little silly to say that he's been a better player than McNeill this year.

121 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

The stats page says that the Jets run up the middle 64% of the time. Do they run up the middle the second most in the league as the offensive line stats page tells me, or am I reading it wrong? Just curious. The page says that Carolina runs it up the middle 64% of the time and they really do. Not one yard further.

122 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Does the term "up the middle" mean a back hits directly into the "A" gap? Or does it include any run that is between the tackles?

123 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

It seems to imply that it is run between the tackles but not over or outside the tackles. Is that correct?

124 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed


That's fine; I'm not arguing that the Jets were significantly better. My argument is, as it has been all along, that there isn't any reason to particularly expect that Miami will race out to a lead and win the game. Our last line, again:Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery are good plays here, especially since there’s a good chance the Jets will be behind in this game.

If there is an argument to be made for why the Dolphins should be expected to be ahead (and perhaps there is), you haven't made it. It's just an assumption that you threw out there without any data to support it. As far as I can tell, the one argument to support that is that Harrington can't be any worse than he was last year, so he can expect to rebound this the 27th best passer in the league. That might be an argument for why it could be a competitive game, but that's clearly not the inference that you made. (Surely the Ronnie Brown thing doesn't qualify as an argument, as we all know that the FO rule #1 is that you run when you are winning, not that you run to win.) So again, just tell me: Why should the Jets expect to be playing catch up?

(You're right of course, the crowd is going to be less on Joey than a Detroit crowd- that's because about 1 out of every 3 people in the building will be wearing green jerseys in the stands. The Jets routinely draw well in Miami, and they figure to do so again in a game that has playoff implications for them and none for the Dolphins. That said...the Dolphins crowds are going to be calling for Lemon early and often should Harrington struggle out of the gate. Joey may not see the camera, but I guarantee you he knows it's there. He hasn't earned a reputation for being mentally soft for nothing. So either Joey is going to crumble/get yanked, or he's going to stay strong and play up to form- the 27th most effective passer in the league form.)

The Patriots comment was intended lightly...sort of. It was you after all who insisted (as is your right) that it was the perogative of the FO staff to watch whichever game they liked/whichever game was available to them, and that their game commentary would reflect that. I have no particular reason to think that you've seen San Diego play all that much- you're either getting the Jets and Giants feeds or your getting the Pats and an NFC late game. I've got the dish and I live on the West Coast, so I see the Chargers all the time. (I certainly saw Jared Allen undress McNeil when they played in Kansas City.)

It might or might not be a little silly to suggest Mangold has been better than McNeil this year. What it actually is is a straw man argument. If you look over my comments, I don't ever suggest that one player is stronger than the other. What I suggested is that I thought it was poor thinking to look at the ALY and draw a conclusion from them as to who is the better player, and then I made an argument (based upon a lot of game tape study, mind you) for why the Jets offensive line statistics look the way they do.

But let's look at those ALY yards for McNeil. The team is first in the league off left end and fifth off left tackle. How were they running behind left tackle last year? They were third in the league. How about the year before that? Third in the league. They have also been in the top ten in runs behind right tackle for three years running. Meanwhile, their numbers up the gut have been mediocre or worse during that time span. Then you bring in the 10+ yard rushing numbers and it comes together: first in the league in '06, 11th in '05, 6th in '04 (and actually first again in '03).

So what's going on? It's pretty obvious what's going on. The Chargers have a home run back (actually, they have two of them at the moment), and those backs break those runs by attacking the edges of the defense. It's not high school football- the Chargers don't have a 5.08 ALY behind left tackle because McNeil is pushing his man six yards downfield. They have that average because he is neutralizing his man and opening a lane for LaDainian Tomlinson to rush through. When you are Nick Mangold or D'brickashaw Ferguson and you neutralize your man and open a gap for Kevan Barlow to run through, the result is rather different- the gap closes up before the runner gets through it, or the runner misses the hole and goes somewhere else.

I don't like the ALY yards generally; they seem like the most easily manipulated of the statistics that are generated by DVOA. You don't have to go any further than Indy's performance: fifth this year, first in '05 and '04, sixth in '03. During every single one of those years, the offensive line was clearly the weak link of the offense- you couldn't dig up an NFL scout who would say otherwise. Those numbers were generated not by the line, not even by Edgerrin James, but by Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and the Colts offensive scheme. When a passing attack can skew ALY numbers the way the Colts offense has, then I have no reason to think that the difference between the best running back rotation in the league and the worst rotation in the league shouldn't do so as well.

So again, much ink has been spilled over two things- 1) I wanted to know if you had any statistical analysis to back up the assumption that Miami was going to be ahead on Monday night, and 2) I suggested that it was dubious to use ALY as a method for making a blanket statement about the performance of a left tackle vis-a-vis a center.

And I'm sorry, I have to touch on that draft discussion comment. I honestly don't remember this discussion at all, but I'm more than willing to grant that you said the Jets would take Ferguson and Mangold if you say so. (It would be no stretch- that was the general consensus.) Putting aside the question as to whether or not the Jets made a proper decision in passing on Leinart and Cutler for Ferguson-that's something which is very much up in the air now and figures to be so for several years. How is the fact that you successfully guessed who the Jets would draft in April relevant to a discussion about a week sixteen game? If I guessed that Arizona would draft Matt Leinart, would that improve my reasoning about their game against San Francisco this week? I could say, "Arizona figures to get a big game out of Edgerrin James this week, as they'll clearly be ahead in the second half. Don't believe me? I said the Cardinals would draft Matt Leinart and they did!"

I mean, really. WTF?

125 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Sorry for not using stats much (and DVOA rules), but I'm a firm believer that intangibles like chemistry and such are every bit as important. I mean, in my experience as a teacher, it's amazing how much a group changes, for example, when the quiet guy who never speaks a word doesn't show up for a month. I'm talking about small groups, but still..

127 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

A possibly injured Vick doesn't bode well but the San Diego game is turning into a probable Seattle run-heavy offense with SD's DT and LB out. I would think Hass is still the safer pick.

128 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed


I'm sorry, but you're just reiterating your points over and over again and I'm doing the same. We'll just have to watch and find out.

129 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Need one RB2 and one flex from the following:
Ronnie Brown (vs. Jets), Ron Dayne (vs. Indy), Larry Fitzgerald (vs. San Fran).


130 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Why would Kubiak let Carr throw the ball even if down 70? But on the other hand, with no threat of a pass game, I believe Ind can shut a running game down. I have Dayne in my championship game but am sitting him in favor of Travis Henry. Only if Henry can't go will I take a chance on Dayne.

Ronnie Brown would have a great matchup but he's coming back from an injury and even if he is all the way healed, he will probably get tired in his first game back.

Fitzgerald looks like he has a great mathup, a possible shootout and a weak pass defense. They are weakest against backs and TE's but do a better job on the #2 receiver than they do the #1.

I would think the safest bet is Fitz and then Ronnie Brown. Any other thoughts?

131 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

RE: 37

Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck should always be playing over the likes of those players.

132 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

oh yeah, and I like Seattle this week to actually pull off the upset against the Chargers.

134 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Tatum or Mike Bell today in my championship?? Yes, hard to believe im in the chip with one of these guys as my RB2. Or Maroney, who is active but against a tough Jags D?

135 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

Alright. The Shaun Alexander trade I made for Carson Palmer paid off huge for me in the championship game. LT came back to earth but Alexander picked up the slack. Question. My opponent is down 98-74 with Stallworth and Miami defense still to go. All I have left is QB. Do I play Romo or Garcia? With Garcia I am assured that I can cancel out whatever scores Stallworth catches and only have to worry about the Miami defense. Do I take the safe route or take Romo at home to outscore Stallworth and Miami?

136 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

I think that Garcia is going to outperform Romo, if only because of where the weaknesses and strengths are in the Philly D. Philly is good against the pass and not so good against the run, which likely means a fair amount of Jones and Barber with occasional passing. Dallas is good against the run and bad against the pass, particularly against running backs, so expect Garcia to do the screens and dumpoffs to Westbrook all day long.

137 Re: Scramble for the Ball: Chuffed

damn, Bill. I listened to you and started Rex and Steve Smith. Smith netted me negative points and Rex got pulled. I lost the game in the only fantasy league I'm in by one point.
Oh well. Maybe next year.