Name Calling Is Our Weekly Feature where we help you figure out which name to call for that flex position, #3 wideout spot, or any other lineup conundrum you may be faced with. Our goal is to help you decide on borderline starters by revealing who will hit pay dirt and who will implode. None of this "start Peyton Manning" or "sit Derek Hagan" nonsense. No loving, hating, flaming, or video gaming either. Just a bit of name calling is all. If there is any doubt about the credibility and accuracy if this little name calling start 'em sit 'em feature here, let my week four performance remove it. Not one of my predictions was wrong last week. It was a heroic, epic feat from which I hope all you readers benefited. It brought my overall record to a shiny 50% average. (Moving on now before you figure out what is really going on here...) Now that we are two weeks into the ugly bye week period, this segment is a bit harder to do. Less choices means less chance for success. Or I guess less chance for failure. That actually makes me feel a little better about my crappy predictions for week five. Who You Gonna Call Steve Slaton - There is only one thing that has hindered Steve Slaton's production this year, Chris Taylor stealing carries. Guess who is out with a quad injury this week? Taylor. The rookie will put up huge numbers against the Colts run defense that is the second-worst in football. Chad Pennington - Miami's week five opponent, the San Diego Chargers, has only failed once all year to yield a 275 yard quarterback—the exception came in week one against Carolina's Jake Delhomme who tossed 247 and one. This includes massive three-touchdown games by Brett Favre and Jay Cutler and even a nice little 277 and one performance by sophomore JaMarcus Russell. Pennington should be the next beneficiary of the struggling San Diego pass defense, especially with the return of the Bolts' Stephen Cooper who will shore up the front seven forcing the Fins to rely more on the passing game. T.J. Houshmandzadeh - This is the week the Bengals passing game looks good again. Carson Palmer has been looking good in practice and will be back on Sunday and Cincinnati will need him on Sunday against the Cowboys. Cincy will be surely be playing from behind quite a bit of the time, forcing them to air it out, and when the Bengals air it out, the only person I have confidence in performing right now is Housh. While Ocho Cinco and the rest of the offense has looked bad all year, TJ has at least shown flashes of his studly self. That self will emerge this weekend. Earnest Graham - Graham has actually looked very solid all season despite less-than-brilliant numbers. His stats have been deflated by his week three matchup at Chicago and their top notch run defense. He'll quietly perform again this week against the Broncos. Denver has been dominated by running backs all year. The Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden timeshare, Reggie Bush, and Larry Johnson have all killed them. The run D only doesn't look horrible on paper because a chunk of Bush's dominance came through the air and Oakland rolled through them with a time share that spread the stats around. See between the lines. Graham will add his name to the list week 5 and Warrick Dunn might not be a bad bye week or flex option either. On Speed Dial (Names you should always, always call, using discretion of course. I don't want idiots saying I told them to start some dude over LDT): RB's against Detroit, WR's against St. Louis, QB's against New York (Jets) Who You Not Gonna Call Clinton Portis - In the hyped match up of the week, the Skins play the Eagles. Philly has shut down Steven Jackson, Matt Forte, and Willie Parker and even held Marion Barber to 68 yards so far in 2008. Hopefully you have a better option so you don't have to see Portis be the next victim while in your starting line up. Julius Jones - With the Seahawks getting Bobby Engram and Deion Branch back this week I'd be surprised to see Seattle run the ball as much as they have so far in 2008 (101 rushes to 47 passes.) While this doesn't necessarily make Hasselbeck a solid start again because it would be naive to think that that passing game would return right away to the high powered air attack of the past, it hurts JuJo and the Seattle running backs. None of them has the talent to dominate with limited touches, so the decrease in opportunities will keep any member of the backfield from making a significant fantasy impact. Steve Breaston - Everyone is going bonkers for this guy, and it is undeserving, at least for this week. Yes, Anquan Boldin will not play on Sunday after the gruesome hit he received against the Jets last weekend and yes, Breaston will slide up into the starting line up in his absence. But no, he will not put up big numbers against the Buffalo Bills pass defense that is sixth in the league. Not On Speed Dial (Names you should always, always caller ID check and ignore, once again, using discretion of course. I don't want idiots saying I told them to sit Randy Moss) - RB's against Tennessee, Kyle Orton, Atlanta WR's, QB's against Pittsburgh
Friday, October 3
Another week with our honorary stat boy, Zach Fein of Fein Sports. A contributor with as much stat muscle as anyone in the business. You may not understand what he's says and use it for you fantasy leagues, but if you're in the mood to be baffled and confused, then boy does he have you covered. Because life is one big spreadsheet. This week he dissects the affect of mid-season head coaching changes. We're still almost three months until Black Monday, the day when coaches on the hot seat receive their pink slips, yet already two coaches—Scott Linehan of the Rams and Lane Kiffin of the Raiders—have been fired. Fantasy owners need to know every bit of information about the new coaches for each team. Jim Haslett, Linehan's replacement, threw the ball 55 percent of the time in his five years at New Orleans, and his teams averaged exactly 100 more passes than rushes each year. Kiffin's replacement, Tom Cable, was the offensive line coach for the Raiders and has had no head coaching experience in the NFL. (He was, however the offensive line coach for the 2006 Atlanta Falcons and the 2007 Oakland Raiders; those two teams passed the ball 45 percent of the time. The Falcons rushed for 300 more yards than they threw, and the Raiders gained over 2,000 rushing yards.) But that wasn't enough for me. I decided to look at the 11 teams who switched head coaches in the middle of the year, and compare the differences of their stats before and after the change. All stats are per game. Here are the results:
A few things to take from the table:
- The wins and losses (prorated to 16 games) before and after the change were nearly identical, with just one-hundredth separating the two results, so I left them off the table.
- You can see that the passing statistics went down and the rushing statistics went up after the mid-season change. I am assuming that the original coach was fired because he was passing too often and not playing grind-it-out football, then the subsequent head coach took the words of the owner/team president/general manager and ran the ball more often.
- Going with the above note: The Rams have thrown the ball 135 times (attempts plus sacks) and rushed 84 times, which is a pass 61 percent of the time; the NFL league average this year is 55.5 percent. As mentioned at the start of the article, Jim Haslett's teams have passed the ball that same percent; look for the Rams to start running more (good news for Steven Jackson owners) and passing less (bad news for Marc Bulger owners, but I would still pick him up if he were on the waiver wire).
- The Raiders have passed only 46 percent of the time. Tom Cable's two prior teams passed the ball 45 percent of the time; look for the Raiders to stay where they are in terms of pass-to-run ratio, even if they are below the league average.
Thursday, October 2
Wednesday, October 1
From The Feature That Takes Us A Month To Get Up And Running Department - News From Ball Street: Week 5
News From Ball Street is like news from Wall Street. It rhymes, see what we did there? Here we watch the stocks (ehh, ehh?) of players who are rising and falling, and decide whether you should target these shooting and sinking stars. Clever, I know. Whadya know, the Dow is down again. Crude oil's rising. And my town is currently going through the ceremonial and educational Suicide Prevention Week. Coincidence? It's a response, I say. Kind of like this feature. Players' values rise and fall, and we respond with analysis. Will you use this week's info to kill in your league? Stock Up Larry Johnson - LJ has put up around 34 points over the past two weeks but I still don't feel like people believe in him as a legitimate, non-crappy, option again. Rightfully so. In week three and four Johnson faced up against Denver and Atlanta, two bottom 10 rushing defenses. He had 96 total rushing yards in the first two weeks against the Chiefs' first two opponents, New England and Oakland, both of whom are better than horrible D's. Course of action: Sell High Jason Campbell - The Redskins have swagger right now. Campbell has performed at a consistently high level thus far this year. Right now his value is rising, but it will only get higher. He's good for 20 points every week. Get him right now when his owner still probably considers the bench player that he drafted him as. Course of action: Buy High Chris Perry - DeDe Dorsey is on IR, Kenny Watson is hurt, and Cedric Benson is... Cedric Benson. So Perry will get tons of touches and be a fantasy force, correct? Neeeope. Perry rushed for 28 yards last Sunday. Against Cleveland. While getting the majority of the touches at running back. Course of action: Sell High Stock Low Ryan Grant - I guarantee that Grant owners have benched him by now. Get him now. Right now. The Bucs are one of only two teams in the league who haven't given up a rushing touchdown yet in 2008. They have a good, good rushing defense. Grant's 20 yards in week 4 weren't because he sucks. They were because of the matchup. Relax. He's also still recovering from his leg issues. He'll bounce back. Course of action: Buy Low Kevin Smith - After a nice week one, Smith was looking like a good addition to what's turning out to be an awesome rookie running back class. About that. Weeks two, three, and four have been terrible. And Rudi Johnson just won the starting job. The same Rudi Johnson who couldn't keep a job on the 0-4 Bengals. Nothing's getting better for Smith. Course of action: Sell Low Ben Roethlisberger - A guy who was so solid last year can't keep playing this mediocre. Especially when his team is on their third-string running back and will have to rely on the passing game. Right? I gotta believe his value will rise back up near the top. Course of action: Buy Low
Screwing League Mates Over By Stealing The Missing Pieces Of The Puzzle That They Need 101
A little bit of irrelevancy never hurt. The school I attend started to crack down on the dress code today. Naturally, because a lot of people are gullible beyond belief, a craze of outrage and mass hysteria followed. Without boring you too much, I'll get straight to my point. Injuries and bye weeks can cause the same hysteria. I'm sure some of you, including myself, can't help but somewhat frantically cringe when you see that your star WR is on a bye or that your #1 RB is questionable for this week. Never fear though; I'm here to help.
Gold Wire Pickups:
Steve Slaton/RB: Houston: I wasn't a big fan of Slaton coming into the year and to be quite honest, I'm still not. He's small in stature and if he hits the rookie wall, his production could really drop. Not to mention that if and when another Houston back gets healthy, Slaton will lose carries. But for this week, I'm a fan. Slaton is versatile, as shown by his reception numbers last week (eight receptions for 83 yards and a score), and has a grand matchup against a Colts defense that has been giving up just under 200 yards on the ground per game this year, good for 31st in the league. Slaton is owned in about 20% of leagues and could be considered a #2 back for teams this week.
Steve Smith and Amani Toomer/WR Giants: I talked about Smith briefly in last week's addition, and now I've added Toomer to the mix. In case you forgot, Plaxico Burress is out this week from a one game suspension given to him by the Giants. With Eli Manning improving and the opportunity of a starting role, both guys should have a good shot to produce. One other crunchy nugget to chew on: Seattle ranks 25th in pass defense, giving up 226 yards per game. Smith is only taken in 10.5% of leagues while Toomer is owned in 45% of leagues.
Copper Wire Pickups
Anthony Fasano/TE Miami: He's been a little hit or miss so far into the season, but I'd bank on him being a "hit" this week. Surprisingly, the Chargers pass defense has really struggled this year. They've allowed a league-worst 276.3 yards per game through the air. Tight ends from previous weeks have also had success against them (See: Dante Rosario and Zach Miller [Ed's Note: And Tony Scheffler.]). With no real weapons at WR, Fasano should get a lot of looks. He's on 44% of waivers.
Lance Moore/WR New Orleans: Moore was one of Drew Brees' favorite targets last week, recording seven catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. That should continue this week against the Vikings. Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey are still out, and even though the Vikings pass defense isn't terrible, the Saints have one of the most potent offenses in the league. Moore isn't even owned in two-percent of ESPN leagues; expect that number to rise after waiver claims are processed.
Chicken Wire Pickups:
Mewelde Moore/RB Pittsburgh: Following the Moore trend. There aren't too many RBs to choose from each week so when a guy with a starting job shows up on the radar, he'll usually be a hot commodity. That's exactly the situation Moore is in. He has a tough matchup against a physical Jags team and Najeh Davenport should steal some carries, but Moore knows the offense, is fairly versatile, and as mentioned, should start. That counts for something, doesn't it? Moore isn't owned in many leagues.
Steve Breaston/WR Arizona: Anquan Boldin is said to be "50-50" at best, and I'd lean towards him not playing after suffering a head injury late last week against the Jets. The Bills' top cornerback Terrence McGee is out for a few weeks, and the Bills will start the underachieving Ashton Youboty and rookie Leodis McKelvin. In a pretty explosive Cardinals offense, expect Breaston to have the chance for some big plays. Breaston is owned in just over three-percent of leagues.
Monday, September 29
Welcome to the Fantasy Football Writers With Hair Monday Night Party, a live chat conversation thing that we have yet to fully understand. Don't worry about the bouncers, you're on the list. Grab a drink and step on in. Talk with us, joke with us, watch the game with us. Ask us questions about life. And maybe fantasy football too. Have fun with it. (Whoever shows up out of) Stat Boy, A-Koz, New Guy, and I will be here all night. Chill with us. We get lonely on Monday Nights.
Posted by Tosten Burks at 9/29/2008 05:24:00 PM
"If not A, then B". Those words were spoken by Mike Greenberg, and it holds true for certain things. If only fantasy football was that simple. There is rarely ever a "One or the other" type of situation. You're always dealing with tons of choices, each with their own pro's and con's. That's what makes fantasy football interesting. (And sometimes, stressful, frustrating, and maddening) Hopefully, a look back at week four will help you narrow down you choices for week five and beyond. - Matt Schaub and David Garrard both started playing to their potential this week. Still, I'd hold off on starting either of these guys. Let's see if they can keep it up. - I believe I said to deal MJD after I predicted he was going to have a big game against the Colts. Not to toot my own horn, but *toot toot* -- looks like I could be right. - Kudos to the Chiefs. They finally gave LJ the rock, and look what happened: they won! Keep it up Kansas City - in both the long and short-run, you'll make your organzation and fantasy owners happy. - The Titans' run defense could be the nastiest in the league. Take away AP's 28 yard touchdown run, and you have 17 carries for 52 yards. That's a 3 YPC. - Another kudos, this time to Oakland. It's about time you got Zach Miller, your only viable threat in the passing game, involved. - Subtract Brett Favre's number (4) from the number of touchdown passes he threw yesterday (6), and you get the number of times Cardinals' defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast threw down his headseat on Sunday after watching the Brett's pick apart Zona's pass defense. Who says math isn't fun? - Greg Jennings has surely emerged as Aaron Rodgers favorite target. - We at ffwriterswithhair.blogspot.com would like to extend our sincerest condolences to Matt Bryant and his family for their loss. - I never thought I'd say this but Kyle Orton played surprisngly well against the Eagles last night. Still, he doesn't have the weapons nor the skill set to deserve much of a look in most leagues. - Santana Moss: Another deep threat turned dependable. Jason Campbell is taking huge strides. Both his and Moss' fantasy value are doing the same.