Monday, November 16, 2009
Week 10 column: Jones-Drew feels our pain
For the second consecutive season, I spent an NFL Sunday rotating through a handful of Las Vegas sports books. And as in 2008, it was plainly evident that there were just as many fantasy football players as gamblers in the house.
I saw guys wearing Steelers jerseys cheer each time Adrian Peterson scored. I watched grown men in Chargers garb groan when Michael Turner was helped off the field. And I was one of at least two dozen non-Jaguars fans who screamed at the screens when Maurice Jones-Drew took a knee at the Jets’ one-yard-line instead of easily scoring. I can assure you we weren’t lamenting that play’s impact on the betting line.
But you have to give MJD credit. In his post-game interview, he actually apologized to his fantasy owners for the play, saying he was instructed not to score so the team could run down the clock, and he had to do what was right for the Jaguars. How cool is that?
Sure, it doesn’t make up for the extra six points that I, and others, could have used this weekend. And it brought back painful memories of a similar play by Brian Westbrook a couple years ago that nearly sent me into convulsions. But Jones-Drew is a self-proclaimed fantasy freak who said he had himself in his own lineup Sunday, so it’s amusing to think that his fantasy self-interest might have prompted even a fleeting moment of remorse as he gave himself up on that play.
It’s also easier to forgive MJD because I read not long ago that he called Matt Forte and challenged him to raise his game, because he was killing him in one of his leagues. Can you imagine what the football “purists” thought when they heard that? Forte still has a way to go, but he’s clearly on the right track. Thanks, Maurice. Now, can you put in a call to Marion Barber, please?
Sunday also brought a rash of injuries to the running back position, so the waiver wires will be hot this week. LeSean McCoy and Ricky Williams are likely not available to those who’ve just lost Brian Westbrook (another concussion) and Ronnie Brown (sprained ankle), respectively; so we’ll focus on some lesser-known players whose stock just shot up overnight.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.
Catch 'em while you can
Jason Snelling, RB, Falcons. He could come in very handy, as Michael Turner’s high ankle sprain will undoubtedly sideline him for a game or more. Already getting some traction in fantasy circles prior to the injury, Snelling racked up 61 yards and a score after the elite rusher went down. Unlike Turner, Snelling contributes as a receiver, so he has extra value in point-per-reception leagues.
Bernard Scott, RB, Bengals. Cedric Benson could miss next week’s favorable engagement with the Raiders with a hip flexor, putting the rookie in position to shine against the team that just surrendered 103 yards and a TD to Jamaal Charles. The Bengals’ offensive line is far superior to the Chiefs’, so Scott’s short-term prospects would be encouraging if the starter can’t go.
Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks. If you saw Forsett pound the Cardinals’ defenders Sunday for 123 yards and a TD, you know the guy packs a mighty punch. With Julius Jones likely out for an extended period with a broken rib and possibly worse, Forsett, a good receiver as well, will likely play the lead role moving forward. He’ll have a tough assignment at Minnesota in Week 11, though, so don’t expect miracles right away.
Don't be fooled
Chris Simms, QB, Broncos. Kyle Orton will probably be a game-time decision this week after injuring his ankle in the first half of Sunday’s contest. Simms was 3-of-13 for 13 yards, plus an interception, in relief. Not too impressive, but not surprising, either. The journeyman hasn’t started a game since 2006 for Tampa Bay, and his fantasy heroics have been few and far between. Though he’ll get the first-team practice reps this week, he is unlikely to fare well against the Chargers in Week 11.
Jason Avant, WR, Eagles. When your team is playing from behind and your quarterback passes for 450 yards, you just might have a career game. Avant’s eight-catch, 156-yard outing certainly qualifies. But barring an injury to DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin, we’re unlikely to see another performance like that from the fourth-year wideout this season.