Friday, December 31, 2010

Perfect Draft: The Final Countdown

That sinking feeling I had in late August when I took Anquan Boldin near the end of the fifth round and gambled that Arian Foster would still be there on the swing-back could not have been more prescient. Not only did I miss out on fantasy’s top running back, but I lost in the first round of the playoffs by one stinking point to the jerk – I mean guy – who stole Foster out from under me.

A few days after the aforementioned draft, I refused to repeat the mistake in another league and grabbed Foster early in the fifth round. Thanks to him, and a certain electrifying quarterback I snared off the waiver wire, I now own the champion’s trophy.

But as solid as that team was, my draft was hardly perfect. I used a second-rounder on Miles Austin – who rode my bench down the stretch – and wasted later picks on Cadillac Williams, Jacoby Jones and the 49ers defense. Indeed, I’ve yet to see anyone have a “perfect” draft, so it’s comforting to know that perfection isn’t necessary to win a title.

But it sure would be nice, wouldn’t it?

That’s why I always wrap up the season by exploring what could have been had we made all the right moves during our preseason draft, with the oft-imitated, always-controversial, yet magically delicious 2010 Perfect Draft: The Final Countdown.

As usual, we operate under a few key assumptions:

1. We’re in a 10-team league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defense/special teams.
2. We are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a zig-zag format, meaning Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson will be gone by the time we pick.
3. The preseason average draft position (ADP) of each player – according to multiple mock draft sites canvassed during early September – is used to determine the most valuable selections in each round;
4. Week 17 performances are disregarded and production during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14 through 16) is given extra weight, both positively and negatively; and,
5. Since all drafts play out differently, we’ll need a little luck along the way.

And finally, in the spirit of truth, justice and the American Way, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.

Now, with the fifth pick of the 2010 Fantasy Draft, we should have selected…

Round 1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. Drafting with 20/20 hindsight allows us to make this pick. Rodgers will help us dominate the first half of the season while we wait for Michael Vick’s ribs to heal. Vick will return the favor when Rodgers suffers his late-season concussion. Drew Brees was nearly as good, but had more than double Rodgers’ interceptions. Frank Gore was on track to be the most valuable first-rounder until his season-ending hip injury in Week 12. Steven Jackson offered steady, if unspectacular, production.

Round 2. Roddy White, WR, Falcons. He delivered virtually every week, while winning our Week 7 and 10 matchups nearly single-handedly. In point-per-reception (PPR) formats, White is the hands-down pick here. Otherwise, Calvin Johnson and Greg Jennings are equally valuable.

Round 3. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles. Tom Brady is arguably a better overall choice here, but he won’t help us much while Vick is out. Philip Rivers was stellar through Week 11, so teaming him with Gore, Jackson or another elite back from the first round works well, too. But for my money, I’ll take the steady and consistent Shady in a slight edge over Jamaal Charles, especially in PPR leagues.

Round 4. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers. When he’s healthy, no tight end holds a candle to Gates. We’ll miss him during the playoffs, but he’ll play a key role in getting us there.

Round 5. Arian Foster, RB, Texans. The top back in Fantasyland moved up draft boards on a near-daily basis as the regular season approached, so early drafters could have secured him more cheaply. Foster was arguably the most important draft-day pick of the year.

Round 6. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs. Aside from a slow start and a devastating late-season stretch attributable mostly to Matt Cassel’s injury, Bowe was a fantasy beast. You could make the case that Hakeem Nicks offered more value in this round, since his two lost games were due to injury (and therefore manageable).

Round 7. Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers. He won’t crack our starting lineup most weeks, but we’ll take a Top 10 fantasy receiver in the seventh round any day.

Round 8. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles. Here’s another luxury pick who will finish the season as a near-elite wideout but will arguably be the “worst” receiver on our roster. Don’t hate us because we’re perfect.

Round 9. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets. During the first half of the season, LT played like a young man again. We’ll rest him down the stretch (as the Jets did), but he deserves a spot on this roster.

Round 10. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders. He’ll drive us crazy with his inconsistency, but RunDMC finally took his place among the elite fantasy RBs in 2010. Kellen Winslow is a nice backup TE option here, too.

Round 11. Steelers defense/special teams. Several units offered strong value, and could be taken much later. But why not grab the best while we can? Pittsburgh’s defense surrendered the fewest points of any team, and shared the NFL sacks lead (44).

Round 12. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns. Here’s where we get a little wacky with our picks. Until he started breaking down in December, Hillis was among the most valuable, and dependable, fantasy players at any position. He reached the end zone in 11 out of the first 12 games. And to think he went undrafted in most leagues.

Round 13. Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars. If not for a late-season surge by Jason Witten (driven by the near-sighted Jon Kitna), Lewis would be the ideal backup option to Gates. If we grab him here, we avoid the rush to claim him after the season opener.

Round 14. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos. Raise your hand if you thought Lloyd would be a decent bench receiver this year, much less among the top two wideouts in the business. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Round 15. Stevie Johnson, WR, Bills. Your friends will think you’re drunk when you call out his name. Frankly, who could blame them? Prefer BenJarvus Green-Ellis? Fine with me.

Round 16. Sebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders. Once again, owners who used an earlier pick on an “elite” kicker were out-gunned by those who waited patiently. Janikowski set the standard this year.

Round 17. Michael Vick, QB, Eagles. For the first time in, um, forever, the consensus MVP of Fantasyland went undrafted in most leagues. The only thing better than grabbing him off the waiver wire after Kevin Kolb went down in Week 1 is looking like a freaking genius for selecting him in the last round of the draft.

So…how perfect was your draft?

Coming next week: We’ll conclude the season with the 2010 Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards. Your nominations are welcome here. I'll post key awards categories this weekend.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Week 16 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers – Passed for 237 yards and 5, count ‘em, 5 TDs, and ran for 23 yards more.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers – Had a monster return, with 404 passing yards and 4 TDs, plus 26 rushing yards, without a turnover.
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals – Proved he’s still got it, with 269 yards and 4 TDs, without a turnover.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears – Passed for 215 yards and 3 TDs, plus an INT, and ran for a 4th score.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs – Threw for 314 yards and 3 TDs, without a turnover.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears – Ran for 113 yards and a TD, and added 4 receptions for 56 yards.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs – Ran for 77 yards and caught 4 passes for 40 yards and 2 scores.

Johnny Knox, WR, Bears – Caught 4 passes for 92 yards and 2 TDs.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs – Turned 6 catches into 153 yards and 1 TD.
Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers – Caught 3 passes for 44 yards and 2 TDs.

Kellen Winslow, Jr., TE, Buccaneers – Caught 7 passes for 98 yards and 2 TDs.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots – Caught 4 passes for 54 yards and 2 TDs.

This was a great week to play against

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills – Tossed 3 INTs with just 251 yards and no TDs.

Mike Tolbert, RB, Chargers – Lost 2 yards before exiting with an injury.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos – Totaled just 41 yards in the first half before his sore ribs gave up on him.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns – Held in check by Ray Lewis & Co., with just 35 rushing yards.
Arizona RBs – Tim Hightower totaled 29 yards, while Beanie Wells had 47.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants – Just 47 yards against the Pack.

Michael Turner, RB, Falcons – Limited to 48 yards on Monday night.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks – Only 53 yards on the day.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals – Ran for 52 yards and lost a fumble.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans – His 58 yards won’t cut it in the fantasy Super Bowl.

Earl Bennett, WR, Bears – Just a 14-yard catch before he left injured.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens – Another awful day with just 2 catches for 15 yards.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings – A 16-yard reception was all he could muster.
Seahawks WRs – Nobody had more than Ben Obomanu’s 2 catches for 18 yards.
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers – His 3 catches netted 17 yards.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots – Got just 19 yards from 3 balls.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints – Held to 2 catches for 21 yards.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals – Caught one big, 26-yard pass.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars – Limited to a single 31-yard catch.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – Thrown to several times, but caught just 2 for 32 yards.
Hines Ward, WR, Steelers – His 3 receptions went for 38 yards.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons – Just 2 catches for 12 yards.

I didn’t see that coming

Correll Buckhalter, RB, Broncos – Rushed for 42 yards and a score, and added 3 catches for 50 yards and a 2nd TD.
John Kuhn, RB, Packers – Had a TD hat trick, despite just 29 combined yards.

Jerome Simpson, WR, Bengals – Caught 6 balls for 124 yards and 2 TDs, while Ochocinco and TO sat out.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday morning updates - Week 16

Happy Championship Sunday, Fools! And Merry Christmas to all... I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday and you're relaxed and ready for a great day of title matchups. Congrats to all who are still playing, and to those who started Miles Austin last night (I didn't).

My lineup for the championship in one of my leagues: Vick, Foster, CJ, V-Jax, Nicks, Mike Williams (TB), Zach Miller (OAK), Chargers D/ST and Matt Bryant. Haven't started Miles in weeks, and I'm rolling with Williams over Ahmad Bradshaw in the flex spot. First time I can remember doing that. In any event, that's a pretty formidable crew if they show up, but my opponent is well-stocked as well. Should be an epic battle.

OK, let's get to the morning's news so we can make the pivotal calls for our most important starting lineups of the season...

Mark Sanchez (shoulder) and Santonio Holmes (turf toe) will start today for the Jets, but I'm worried about both of them in Soldier Field against the Bears. Snow is already coming down, but it's not expected to be a huge factor in the game.

Maurice Jones-Drew is officially OUT of today's game, according to reports. Rashad Jennings will be your lead RB today vs. the Redskins; and I expect good things from him. He could very easily be the latest in a long line of late-season fantasy heroes. If I wasn't rocking Foster and CJ today, I'd be picking up Jennings (who should already be on the bench of MJD's owners in all leagues; but isn't).

All signs point to a return to action for Joseph Addai (neck) today. Addai is my "Flier of the Week," which means he could come out of nowhere to have a big day. Then again, he might not. (That's quite a bold statement, huh?) Actually, assuming he plays, I like his chances better than most of the other gurus I've seen. The Colts have been waiting on his return for a long time, and they need him to perform well if they're going to close out the season on a high. Keep in mind, he's coming off a neck injury; not a leg/knee injury. Oakland has a terrible run defense, and Donald Brown just isn't cutting it (despite last week's fluke performance.) Mike Hart, by the way, did not travel to Oakland with the team.

Knowshon Moreno will likely give his sore ribs a go today vs. the Texans. Just don't expect a lot out of him if you start him. Hopefully a short TD run or reception to go with 50-60 yards. Just a hunch...but I betcha Tebow will be the team's leading rusher again.

Chris Ivory is 50/50 for Monday night. I think Pierre Thomas will get the bulk of the carries either way; but I wouldn't want to rely on him. He hasn't shown much since he returned from injury.

Roddy White has been doing some trash-talking about the Saints over the past week, but he's listed as questionable for the game. Don't worry about it. He'll have a chance to put his money where his Tweets are.

Andre Johnson could very well miss today's game against the Broncos. That will not only have a negative impact on Schaub, but it won't help Arian Foster either. Denver will be able to stack the line against the Texans with AJ out. That said, Denver's run defense is downright hopeless; so don't even think about benching Foster.

Rookie TE Aaron Hernandez will not play for the Pats today.

Winter weather advisory for Philly: They're expecting blizzard conditions for tonight's Eagles-Vikings matchup. So much so that the NFL is considering the possibility of postponing the game. Really? Whatever...I would never consider sitting AP, LeSean McCoy or The Most Interesting Man in Fantasyland. But I wouldn't complain if they decided to wait until the weather cleared up...especially if I was a DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin or Sidney Rice owner.

OK, that's it for now. Follow my Tweets for the late-breaking news and inactive reports. Good luck, Fools. Claim that title!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Week 16 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Michael Vick and Arian Foster, or bench Jerome Harrison and Terrance Copper? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for real help with your starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 16 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs vs. Titans. He made it through last week’s game at the Rams without setback, and returns home for a tantalizing matchup against the Titans’ soft secondary. Cassel and Dwayne Bowe should have a field day, while Tennessee is forced to respect KC’s explosive backfield tandem.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks at Buccaneers. Lynch has been up-and-down in recent weeks, but he’s a great bet against the league’s 29th-ranked run defense. The Bucs have given up 369 rushing yards over the past two games.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys at Cardinals. Only Denver has coughed up more fantasy points to opposing rushers than Arizona. Even if Marion Barber returns, he’ll poach carries from Tashard Choice, not Jones. The featured back should roll on Christmas night.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts at Raiders. With Austin Collie out for the season, Garcon will again be Peyton Manning’s No. 2 receiver. Oakland has surrendered the third-most passing TDs in the NFL, and shut-down corner Nnamdi Asomugha will be focused on Reggie Wayne.

Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks at Buccaneers. Despite the poor quarterbacking in Seattle, a healthy Williams is still getting a remarkable number of targets. The Bucs’ pass defense is vulnerable, making Williams a great start, especially in PPR leagues. For that matter, the Bucs’ Mike Williams is a solid play against Seattle’s porous secondary, too.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Matt Schaub, Aaron Rodgers, Jon Kitna, David Garrard, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tim Tebow; RBs Mike Tolbert, LeGarrette Blount, Ryan Torain, Brian Westbrook, Ronnie Brown, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Darren McFadden, Fred Jackson, Matt Forte, Rashad Jennings (if Jones-Drew sits); WRs Vincent Jackson, Steve Johnson, Hakeem Nicks, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Sims-Walker, Brandon Lloyd, Jacoby Ford, Jeremy Maclin, Santana Moss, Brandon Marshall.

Roll ‘em back

Eli Manning, QB, Giants at Packers. In the bone-chilling conditions of the frozen tundra, Manning will face off against the NFL’s third-ranked pass defense. He was terrific last week against the Eagles, but that followed two games in which he had just one total TD pass and three interceptions.

Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals vs. Chargers. Coming off his best game of the season, it’s tempting to let Benson ride this week. But San Diego sports the league’s second-toughest run defense, and Benson is unlikely to get much cover from Cincinnati’s depleted air attack.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns vs. Ravens. He has missed practice time with a knee injury and his body appears to be breaking down due to the heavy workload. Even worse, Ray Lewis has vowed that Hillis’ huge game against the Ravens in Week 3 “won’t happen again.” Cleveland’s workhorse hasn’t scored in the past three games, so it’s not crazy to consider sitting him.

Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets at Bears. He’s dealing with a turf toe injury, while Mark Sanchez has a cartilage tear in his throwing shoulder. They’re both facing the swarming Bears defense at frigid and windy Soldier Field. No thanks.

Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals vs. Chargers. Ocho himself says he may only take half the snaps in Sunday’s game due to painful bone spurs in his ankle. He’s a risky start against the league’s top pass defense even without the injury; and especially with Terrell Owens sidelined and unable to distract the opposing secondary.

More thumbs down: QBs Mark Sanchez, Shaun Hill, Matt Hasselbeck, Kerry Collins, Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer; RBs Maurice Jones-Drew, LaDainian Tomlinson, Tim Hightower, Pierre Thomas, Anthony Dixon, Broncos RBs, Lions RBs; WRs Malcom Floyd, Sidney Rice, Johnny Knox.


Joseph Addai, RB, Colts at Raiders. He’s back at practice and has been targeting a Week 16 return from his neck injury since November. If Addai plays, he should be in line for plenty of carries, including those in the red zone, as well as passes out of the backfield. Oakland’s rush defense is nothing to write home about.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…forgets to set your lineup for Saturday’s game. You’ve gotten used to the Thursday night matchups by now, but don’t let the Yuletide gaiety distract you from assigning the appropriate spots to your Cowboys and Cardinals for the Christmas night contest.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Week 15 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles – Another other-worldly performance, with 242 passing yards and 3 TDs, plus 130 rushing yards another TD. We’ll overlook the interception.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants – Passed for 4 TDs and 289 yards, plus an INT.
Rex Grossman, QB, Redskins – Passed for 322 yards and 4 TDs, with 3 turnovers.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers – Threw for 273 yards and a trio of TDs.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints – Racked up 3 TDs and 267 yards, plus an INT.
Matt Flynn, QB, Packers – Passed for 251 yards and 3 TDs, plus 1 INT and a fumble.

Ray Rice, RB, Ravens – Rushed for 153 yards and 1 TD, and caught 5 passes for 80 yards and another TD.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals – Rushed for 150 yards and a score.

Vincent Jackson, QB, Chargers – Started Week 15 off right with 5 catches for 112 yards and 3 TDs.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants – Hauled in 8 passes for 113 yards and 2 TDs, plus a fumble.
Austin Collie, WR, Colts – Collected 8 receptions for 87 yards and 2 TDs before leaving with another concussion.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins – Caught 8 passes for 72 yards and a pair of TDs.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles – Reeled in 7 passes for 59 yards and 2 TDs.
Devin Hester, WR, Bears – Scored on one of his 2 catches for 23 yards, and on a record-setting kickoff return.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins – Turned 11 catches into 106 yards and a score.

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys – Hauled in 10 passes for 140 yards and a TD.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints – Scored twice while catching 5 passes for 29 yards.

This was a great week to play against

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks – Passed for just 71 yards, 2 INTs and a fumble before being benched.
Alex Smith, QB, 49ers – Just 165 yards and 1 INT, without a score.
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals – Threw for 209 yards, and that’s it.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings – A last-minute scratch that left many owners in the lurch at the worst possible time.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos – Left early with an injury after just 5 rushing yards.
Jahvid Best, RB, Lions – Just 12 rushing yards.
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints – Held to 20 rushing yards, despite getting the start.
Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals – Totaled just 28 yards rushing and receiving. Beanie Wells managed a paltry 11 rushing yards.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants – Just 34 yards on the day.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills – Limited to 36 rushing yards and no receptions.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets – Held to 49 rushing yards and a 6-yard reception.

Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals – Pulled up lame before catching a pass.
Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos – Posted a goose egg.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens – Caught a pathetic 2-yard pass.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals – Caught 2 balls for 36 yards.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers – Pulled in 3 catches for 17 yards.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints – Also had 17 yards, on just 2 catches.
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers – Continued his miserable year with 2 catches for 22 yards.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings – He got 23 yards with his 2 catches.
Deion Branch, WR, Patriots – Only 33 yards on 2 receptions.
Hines Ward, WR, Steelers – Just 2 receptions for 34 yards.
Earl Bennett, WR, Bears – His 3 catches amounted to 37 yards.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers – Caught a 4-yard pass.

Dan Carpenter, K, Dolphins. Missed all four of his field goal attempts.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Most Interesting Man in Fantasyland

He can beat you with his rifle arm, or his rocket legs, but he refuses to use his laser vision in public.

Other rich and famous athletes ask for his autograph, even after he has humiliated them.

His Wikipedia entries have never been inaccurate.

When he is interviewed on television, he is speaking directly to you.

He knows the last digit of pi.

If you were to try to tackle him, the air you grasped would smell like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

He once won a punt, pass and kick competition, without using a ball.

When he calls time-out, the Earth stops rotating.

His awkward-looking slides are actually fundamentally perfect.

He owns several NFL records, which he plays on his turntable to relax.

He does not send Christmas cards. They send themselves.

They say he once got a concussion, then helped the trainers understand the meaning of life.

When he calls plays in the huddle, all his teammates hear is “I’ll find you.”

If he played soccer, Americans would watch.

You cannot say the word “victory” without uttering his name.

When he is penalized, the opposing team loses yardage.

School children have recited his snap counts as historic speeches.

When he scrambles, he can see the imaginary, yellow first-down line.

His fantasy owners have already won next weekend’s championship game.

It was he who let the dogs out.

He is…the Most Interesting Man in Fantasyland.

Says he: “I don’t always play fantasy football. But when I do, I prefer to start only myself.”

Stay sportsy, my friends.


As you head into championship weekend, your starting roster should be fairly settled. But a little tweaking here or there, if only to keep your competition from improving, might still be in order. Here’s a look at a few players that could next weekend, and some that won’t.

Catch ‘em while you can

Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos. He racked up a passing and rushing touchdown in his first road start, and he will face the Texans’ historically inept secondary in his much-anticipated Mile High debut Sunday. Kyle Orton is not expected to return, even if healthy. If Knowshon Moreno’s rib injury keeps him sidelined, Tebow could again be Denver’s leading rusher. In leagues that start two QBs, the rookie is worth a look.

Michael Bush, RB, Raiders. Though Darren McFadden is the team’s most explosive tailback, Bush has emerged as the goal-line specialist. He’s scored three times over the past three weeks, and he’ll be facing Indy’s porous run defense next weekend.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers. He is a free agent in roughly a third of all fantasy leagues. After his three-TD performance last Thursday, you can bet your opponents’ waiver-wire claims are already locked in.

Don’t be fooled

Matt Flynn, QB, Packers. He exceeded expectations in his first start, but Aaron Rodgers is likely to return in Week 16. Even if Flynn gets another chance, the unfavorable matchup with the Giants makes him an overly risky play.

Rex Grossman, QB, Redskins. Go ahead. Make your opponent’s day.

Lance Ball, RB, Broncos. After Moreno left the game early, Ball took 15 handoffs. Unfortunately, the undrafted rookie accumulated just 20 yards. Correll Buckhalter ran for a whopping three yards on six carries. In other words, avoid all Denver backs not named Moreno.

Dan Carpenter, K, Dolphins. He missed all four of his field goal attempts Sunday, any of which could have saved the day for Miami. Though each was from 48 or more yards out, Carpenter may have trouble shaking off this disaster. You don’t need a kicker with the yips in your title matchup.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday morning updates - Week 15

Good morning, Fools. Here we go again, and this time it's for keeps -- either Week 1 or Week 2 of the postseason for virtually every fantasy league. We've gotta get it right today, folks. Let's see wassup around the league...

First off, I hope you started V-Jax and/or the Chargers defense Thursday night, as I did. I'm up 47-1 already in one of my leagues, thanks to those decisions, and the play of Vernon Davis by my opponent. I'm not counting my winnings yet, but I feel a lot better in my shoes than his going into today's matchups...

You know Aaron Rodgers has been ruled out. Fortunately they didn't leave us hanging all day. Now you know you need to start someone else this afternoon. You sure don't want to rely on Matt Flynn outdoors at night against the hot Patriots defense.

And I wouldn't touch Jay Cutler on Monday night outdoors on the U of Minnesota's rock-hard turf. That's just asking for a concussion against the Vikings' pass rush. Temperature at game-time is expected to be in the mid-teens.

Rookie Joe Webb will start at QB for the injured Favre, who is already officially listed as out. Webb is listed as a WR in some leagues (including Yahoo's), so while I would never consider starting him as a QB, he's an intriguing option if you can list him as a third WR (or flex play). He could toss or run for a TD or two, which would make him one of the stronger WR plays of the weekend. Just saying...

The Chiefs are apparently planning to roll with Matt Cassel today. While I wouldn't want him in my lineup (no telling how long he lasts less than 2 weeks removed from an appendectomy), I'd feel a lot better about starting Bowe if Brodie Croyle isn't the QB.

The Tim Tebow Era will begin for the Broncos today. Kyle Orton (ribs) may be active, but Tebow is expected to get his first career start. No telling how he'll fare in the Black Hole, but I suspect he'll have more rushing TDs than passing scores over the next couple of weeks. Again, with a new QB at the controls, all bets are off for the Broncos' slumping receivers, including Brandon Lloyd. Frankly, I wouldn't have them much higher on my pecking order even if Orton was playing. Remember that Oakland shellacked Denver 59-14 in Week 7.

The Rex Grossman Era will begin today for the Redskins, with McNabb now relegated to 3rd string. (John Beck is No. 2.) Don't be surprised if the Beck Era begins next week in Washington.

It's John Skelton vs. Jimmy Clausen in Carolina today. Zzzzzzzz....

Signs are pointing to Chris Ivory sitting out the Ravens game with a bad hammy. That would leave Pierre Thomas as the primary rusher, with Reggie Bush presumably getting more touches as well. If it wasn't for the tough matchup on the road, I'd be intrigued by Pierre. But as it is, I think it's awfully risky.

Marion Barber will probably not play today, which helps uncomplicate the Dallas RB rotation. Felix Jones is a decent play, with Tashard Choice a bit of a wild card. We just don't know how many touches he will receive.

DeSean Jackson (foot) will play today as usual.

Dallas' Roy Williams (hamstring) is not expected to be active. But no official word yet.

Recently acquired WR Kevin Curtis is expected to be active for the Dolphins today. No, you shouldn't pick him up. Just thought I should let you know.

Heath Miller is out again due to his concussion.

Joe Nedney was just placed on IR. Jeff Reed will kick for the 49ers for the remainder of the season.

It's going to be wet in Oakland, and freezing in Cinci, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New York, Minneapolis and New England. But it doesn't look like the weather will play as big a role in the outcomes of this weekend's games as it did last week.

Okay, that's it for today's blog updates. Be sure you're following my tweets for the game-day inactives and other breaking news, which will begin shortly. Good luck to all Fools!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Week 15 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Peyton Manning and Andre Johnson, or bench Brodie Croyle and Brad Smith? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for real help with your starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 15 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars at Colts. He combined for three TDs against the Colts in Week 4 and passed for three scores last week against the Raiders. Indy’s defense has been torched over the past four weeks, most recently by Kerry Collins; so look for Garrard to pad his resume in this divisional showdown.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers vs. Cardinals. Though Mike Goodson remains a key part of the backfield mix, Stewart has reclaimed the leading role over the past three weeks. Finally looking like the powerhouse back of recent years, Stewart will have no trouble exploiting Arizona’s 30th-ranked run defense Sunday.

Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins at Cowboys. It’s easier to pass than run on Dallas, but Torain gives the Redskins their best chance to control the game, especially with Rex Grossman taking the snaps. Torain burst back on the fantasy radar last week, and he’ll stay there Sunday.

Kenny Britt, WR, Titans vs. Texans. Now that he has returned from his hamstring injury and supplanted the incredible, shrinking Randy Moss as the starter, get Britt back in your lineup against the hapless Houston secondary.

Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars at Colts. Just as I expect good things from Garrard, I foresee glad tidings from his most dangerous receiver, now that he has put his ankle injury behind him.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Jon Kitna, Jason Campbell; RBs Tim Hightower, Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Brown, Jamaal Charles, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, LeGarrette Blount; WRs Hakeem Nicks, Deion Branch, Miles Austin, Brandon Marshall, Jeremy Maclin.

Roll ‘em back

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens vs. Saints. New Orleans has surrendered an NFL-low eight passing TDs all season. The likelihood of Flacco connecting on multiple passing scores Sunday is awfully slim.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills at Dolphins. Miami has given up just six rushing TDs all year, and they’ve stifled several top backs in recent weeks, including Peyton Hillis and the Jets’ tandem. Jackson won’t find much room to roam against this formidable run defense.

Packers RBs at Patriots. Not only are they facing a solid defensive front in New England, but they’re splitting the load among four players. James Starks took a huge step backwards last week after bursting on the scene in Week 13, and Brandon Jackson has proven he can’t handle a heavy workload. If Aaron Rodgers sits out, as expected, a bad situation gets even worse.

Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings vs. Bears. With Joe Webb expected to start at QB, all bets are off on the Vikings’ passing attack against a Chicago defense looking to atone for its humiliating loss to the Patriots. It won’t help that the game will be played outdoors on a frozen and unfamiliar surface.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens vs. Saints. Am I bitter about his paltry stats against the lousy Texans secondary on Monday night? You bet. Would I start him against the Saints’ stingy pass defense? Not a chance.

More thumbs down: QBs Kyle Orton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Hasselbeck, Josh Freeman, Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer; RBs Donald Brown, Cedric Benson, Thomas Jones, Jets RBs, Chris Ivory; WRs Brandon Lloyd, Mario Manningham, Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe (if Matt Cassel is out), Mike Williams (TB), Stevie Johnson, Austin Collie, Steve Smith (CAR), Davone Bess, Bears WRs, Packers WRs.


Kerry Collins, QB, Titans vs. Texans. Houston blanked the Titans in Week 12, but that was with Rusty Smith at the controls. Collins is far from a lock, but he’s coming off an excellent outing against Indy, and the Texans’ secondary is downright sieve-like. With Britt back healthy, Collins could come up big for risk-taking owners, or those needing a proxy for Rodgers.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…risks a goose egg with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday night. We may not know if he’s playing until after the afternoon games have ended. If you take your chances, you’ll need to hedge your bets with Flynn (yuck) or one of the Monday night passers (double yuck).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Week 14 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans – Notched 393 yards and 3 TDs, though he also tossed 2 costly INTs.
Michael Vick, QB, Eagles – Passed for 270 yards and 2 TDs, and ran for 16 yards and another score.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots – Passed for 369 yards and 2 TDs, without any turnovers.
Kerry Collins, QB, Titans – Passed for 3 TDs and 244 yards.
Alex Smith, QB, 49ers – Threw for 255 yards and a TD trifecta.

Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders – Ran for 123 yards and 2 TDs, and caught 3 passes for 86 yards and a 3rd score.
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons – Rumbled for 112 yards and 3 TDs, plus a 12-yard catch.
Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals – Ran for 148 yards and 2 TDs.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans – Broke out of his slump with 111 rushing yards and 1 TD, plus 8 catches for 68 yards.
Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins – Ran for 172 yards and caught 2 passes for 10 more.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – Caught only 4 passes, but took them for 210 yards and a highlight-reel TD.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans – Came through big on Monday night, with 9 receptions for 140 yards and 2 TD beauties.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts – Caught 6 passes for 93 yards and 2 TDs.
Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens – Torched the Texans with 6 receptions for 78 yards and 2 scores.
Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers – His 4 catches produced 51 yards and 2 TDs.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints – Reeled in 5 passes for 46 yards and a pair of scores.
Deion Branch, WR, Patriots – Pulled down 8 passes for 151 yards and 1 TD.

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys – Caught 7 balls for 69 yards and 2 scores.

Jay Feely, K, Cardinals – Kicked 4 field goals (23, 36, 48 and 55 yards), 4 extra points and ran for a TD on a fake field goal.

Steelers defense – Tallied 3 sacks, 3 INTs – 2 of which were returned for TDs - and held Cincinnati to 7 points.
Ravens defense/special teams – Amassed 2 sacks, 3 turnovers, and returned a kickoff and an INT for TDs.

This was a great week to play against

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers – Passed for 46 yards and an INT and ran for 25 fateful yards before exiting with a concussion.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers – Played mistake-free, and TD-free, while passing for 258 yards.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears – Bad Jay returned to pass for 152 yards, no TDs and 2 INTs.
Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos – Passed for 166 yards with 3 INTs and no TDs.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets – Threw for 216 yards and no TDs, plus 2 turnovers.

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals – Just 16 rushing yards.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings – 26 yards in the first week of the fantasy postseason? Ouch!
Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys – Totaled 33 yards on the night.
Packers RBs – Brandon Jackson’s 28 total yards led the four rushers.
Chiefs RBs – Jamaal Charles ran for just 40 yards, which is a whole lot better than Thomas Jones’ 1 yard.
Dolphins RBs – Ronnie Brown ran for 55 yards (and fumbled) while Ricky Williams had 34.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals – Combined for 45 yards as a rusher and receiver.
Chris Ivory, RB, Saints – Took a hit with Pierre Thomas’ return and a bum hammy, running just 7 times for 47 yards.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets – Ran for 49 yards and caught 2 passes for 5 yards.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears – Combined for 61 yards.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers – Just 68 rushing yards and lost a fumble.

Randy Moss, WR, Titans – Relegated to a spectator now.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints – Posted a goose egg.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers – Caught a measly 1-yard pass.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants – So did he, thanks to the return of Hakeem Nicks.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs – Shut down for a second straight week, with a 3-yard reception.
Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins – His pass went for 6 yards.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles – Just one 11-yarder.
Steve Smith, WR, Giants – Returned to catch a 12-yard pass, then promptly left again with a hamstring injury.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets – His reception amounted to 17 yards.
Steve Breaston, WR, Cardinals – Netted 18 yards on 2 balls.
Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers – His sole catch netted 15 yards.
Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals – Held to a single 22-yard reception.
Johnny Knox, WR, Bears – Caught 2 passes for 16 yards and lost a fumble.
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers – Just 17 yards on 2 catches.
Donald Driver, WR, Packers – His 2 receptions only went for 12 yards.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions – Limited to a 44-yard catch and a 13-yard run.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – His 3 catches went for just 32 yards.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys – Ran for more yards (26) than he had on 2 passes (22).

Brent Celek, TE, Eagles – Held catchless Sunday night.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Slogging through a winter wonderland

I don’t know which would be worse: Losing your first-round playoff matchup thanks to Aaron Rodgers’ ill-timed concussion; or because your opponent’s kicker tallied four field goals, four extra points and a rushing touchdown.

Thankfully, neither happened to me; but Rodgers’ early exit led to a disappointing performance by Greg Jennings, which could prove costly. And yes, Jay Feely’s bizarre scoring run should count. If your league’s rules don’t allow it, change them.

Like many, my fate hangs in the balance of tonight’s games. (Go Anquan!) But while the weather has already had an indirect – and difficult-to-predict – effect on the postponed Giants-Vikings tilt, none of the four teams will be able to blame the elements should they fail to deliver when you and I need them most.

I presume you don’t need any more convincing that snow, freezing rain and gusting winds can wreak havoc on your fantasy heroes, unless they happen to play quarterback near Boston and live with supermodel wives. But just to be sure…

“Bad Jay” Cutler added another classic stinker to his Windy City resume. The rest of his team, including his vaunted defense, followed suit.

Carson Palmer and Terrell Owens had arguably their worst outings of the year courtesy of the smothering Steelers defense, with a big assist from the freezing rain at Heinz Field. Ben Roethlisberger and his broken nose weren’t much better than Palmer, for that matter.

The Bills and Browns combined for a single touchdown in the bone-chilling rain of Buffalo, as did the Dolphins and Jets in the soggy New Meadowlands. Santonio Holmes even let a perfectly thrown ball slip uncharacteristically through his hands in the end zone.

Graham Gano botched field goals of 24 and 34 yards and was spared the ignominy of whiffing the game-tying extra point when the snap sailed through the soaked gloves of his holder on Washington’s final play.

Meanwhile, aside from the unflappable Tom Brady, most of the weekend’s top performers – including Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Darren McFadden, Michael Turner, Tim Hightower, DeSean Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Marques Colston – played indoors, or at least in much more hospitable surroundings.

Call it an aberration if you like. But I’ve already started worrying about my Packers, Steelers, Jets and Bengals next weekend. El Nino, where are you?

At this stage of the season, your starting roster should be fairly settled. But a little tweaking here or there, if only to keep your competition from improving, might still be in order. Here’s a look at a few players that could help in the final weeks, and a few that won’t.

Catch ‘em while you can

Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins. When a hamstring injury knocked him out of action in Week 8, Torain was dropped in many leagues. But after his career-best 172-yard romp on Sunday, he’ll be the hottest commodity on this week’s waiver wire. He’s available in more than half of all leagues.

Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars. The second-year back showed his game-breaking ability on a 74-yard TD run, and finished with five carries for 109 yards. Jennings has now scored in three consecutive weeks. Owners of Maurice Jones-Drew would be well-advised to hedge their bets with his emerging backup.

Kenny Britt, WR, Titans. He returned from a hamstring injury last Thursday and promptly re-claimed his starting job over Randy Moss. With the Texans’ woeful secondary on tap, Britt will be worth starting consideration on many title-seeking fantasy squads.

Don’t be fooled

Alex Smith, QB, 49ers. Aaron Rodgers’ owners who survived their Week 14 matchup will be scrambling for help this week. Don’t be tempted by Smith’s 255-yard, three-touchdown shellacking of the Seahawks. Among other well-documented reasons, he’ll be facing the Chargers’ stifling pass defense on the road next week.

Randy Moss, WR, Titans. Remember his “lost years” in Oakland? Those may seem like the good ole days by the time this season concludes. Moss won’t even be a starter for the rest of the year as long as Britt remains healthy. Feel free to send him packing.

Lee Evans, WR, Bills. He incurred a dreaded high ankle sprain on Sunday and may be lost for the season. Time to move on.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday morning updates - Week 14

Good morning, Fools, and welcome to the first week of the fantasy postseason. I hope all of you are still in contention. I'm moving forward in 3 of 4 leagues (just missed out in the other thanks to trouble at the RB position that I couldn't fix over the past 4-5 weeks; kept getting out-prioritied on the guys I wanted off the waiver wire). It happens.

Let's get into it.

We figured the weather would come into play in a big way today, but I didn't imagine that it would effect a dome game. Alas, the Metrodome roof has collapsed (take a look at the pics on, so the Giants and Vikings' game has been postponed till Monday night at Ford Field in Detroit. That will give Favre, Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks an additional day to heal up, but it also makes them all riskier fantasy starts since you won't know until tomorrow whether or not they'll play. Frankly, I'm not high on any of them -- forget about Favre, but also the WRs, who'll be coming back for their first action after an extended absence. Nicks, in particular, is the less likely of the two to play. I just don't see either of them getting a lot of snaps and both are at risk of leaving the game early. certainly makes things even more interesting.


Frigid conditions (temps in teens), gusty winds (30-50 mph) and snow (70% chance) will be a factor in Chicago, where the Bears host the Pats. Tom Brady obviously knows how to handle it, but I'm not as confident in Cutler. Matt Forte will probably be given an extra workload, but I wouldn't want to bank on any Bear receiver, or either kicker (Gould, Graham).

It's raining and windy in New York, which could put a damper on the passing and kicking games of the Jets and Dolphins. I'm still starting Santonio, but I don't like any other WR in this game, especially due to the weather.

It's much colder, but less windy, in Buffalo. Peyton Hillis should be the man in that game. I'm worried about Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson, and am benching Johnson in the league where I have safer options (Boldin, Santonio, Jennings).

It's going to be sloppy in Pittsburgh, too. Look for a big game from Mendenhall, but I still don't like Benson's chances against the Steelers' D. Big Ben and Palmer are used to these conditions, so I wouldn't downgrade their receivers too much.

The Chiefs finally ended their charade and ruled out Matt Cassel (appendectomy). Brodie Croyle will get the start against the Chargers' defense, which could mean trouble for Dwayne Bowe. Truthfully, I'd probably still start Bowe (unless I had some slam-dunk alternatives); but I'd be extremely nervous about it.

Brandon Marshall is expected to suit up today and take his chances on Revis Island, but Brian Hartline won't be around to pick up the slack. He's been placed on IR by the Dolphins due to a hand injury.

Ravens TE Todd Heap has been ruled out, as expected, for Monday night. Rookie Ed Dickson will start in his place, and I like his chances against the Texans' pathetic secondary.

Latest upheaval from the world of kicking: Denver's Matt Prater is out with a groin injury. Steven Haushcka was signed to replace him this week, and possibly longer. Prater is widely owned across Fantasyland, and the matchup with Arizona is one of the best. If you're hurting at the position (possibly due to the weather issues discussed above), Hauschka is a sneaky good option.

OK, that's it for this morning. I'll be tweeting the inactives in a sec. Good luck to all Fools!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Week 14 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Michael Vick and Greg Jennings, or bench Jimmy Clausen and Ted Ginn? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for real help with your starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 14 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens at Texans. Aside from the obvious elites, no QB merits a start this week more than Flacco. After holding his own against Pittsburgh, he and his wideouts will be treated to the league’s sorriest pass defense on Sunday. 300 yards and three or four TDs are well within reach.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos at Cardinals. With their former running backs coach now calling the shots, look for Moreno to be featured against Arizona’s hapless rush defense. Coming off a 175-total-yard effort in Week 13, Moreno should find similar success, and TDs, as the pressure is eased off Kyle Orton.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers at Redskins. Washington just coughed up 197 yards and four TDs to the Giants, while Blount ran strong vs. Atlanta. With run-stopper Albert Haynesworth suspended for the season, Blount’s path to the end zone gets even smoother.

Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers vs. Chiefs. His hamstring injury appears to be behind him, but his fellow receivers remain out or hobbling. Philip Rivers is overdue for a huge game, and KC’s pass defense isn’t as solid as they appeared last week.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Raiders at Jaguars. He has emerged as Oakland’s most lethal receiving weapon, and he’s an equally dynamic threat as a kick returner. Jacksonville’s shaky secondary doesn’t stand a chance against Ford’s speed.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, David Garrard; RBs Jamaal Charles, Jonathan Stewart, Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, Tashard Choice; WRs Jeremy Maclin, Anquan Boldin, Wes Welker, Derrick Mason, Donald Driver, Robert Meachem, Mike Wallace, Mike Williams (TB), Santonio Holmes.

Roll ‘em back

Eli Manning, QB, Giants at Vikings. Minnesota’s pass defense has been playing extremely well lately while Manning has been just so-so, due mostly to his depleted WR corps. He may get Steve Smith (pectoral) and/or Hakeem Nicks (leg) back this week, but neither is likely to be at full speed Sunday.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills vs. Browns. He was gobbled up by the Vikings last week, and lost two blockers in the process. With CJ Spiller back to steal carries, don’t expect Jackson to find much success, or the end zone, against a defense that’s allowed just four rushing scores all season.

Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals at Steelers. He managed to reach paydirt against the Steelers in Week 9, but Benson has been mostly underwhelming this season. He’s unlikely to excel, or score again, against the NFL’s toughest run defense.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs at Chargers. Shortly after being held to a measly 13-yard catch by San Diego in the season opener, Bowe emerged as an elite fantasy wideout. But Champ Bailey shut him out last week, and he’ll face the stingy Chargers secondary without Matt Cassel (appendectomy) Sunday. With Brodie Croyle under center, KC’s best bet is to pound their running backs, as Oakland did so successfully last week.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals vs. Broncos. Fitz barely ranks among this year’s Top 20 fantasy wideouts, thanks to the Cardinals’ shabby play at QB. Now he must break in another passer (probably rookie John Skelton) while visiting “Bailey Beach,” where Bowe was marooned in Week 13.

More thumbs down: QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer, Brett Favre; RBs Mike Goodson, James Starks, Danny Woodhead, Pierre Thomas, Maurice Morris, Felix Jones, Jahvid Best, Shonn Greene, Ryan Mathews, Thomas Jones, Reggie Bush, Redskins RBs, Dolphins RBs; WRs Steve Smith (both), Brandon Marshall, Roy Williams, Braylon Edwards, Percy Harvin, Danario Alexender, Steve Breaston, Earl Bennett.


Broncos defense/special teams at Cardinals. Two weeks ago, Rusty Smith made the pathetic Texans defense look like the 2000 Ravens. On Sunday, Skelton could do the same for the Broncos. Denver should blitz the rookie silly, when they’re not stacking the line against Arizona’s subpar rushing attack. The Broncos held the Chiefs to 10 points last week, so it’s not a stretch to project single digits from the Cards.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHOneglects to check the weather before finalizing your starting lineup. It’s that time of year again, when gusty winds, snow and sleet can wreak havoc on passing and kicking games. Sloppy weather could be in store in Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Jacksonville, New York, Pittsburgh and Washington this weekend.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Week 13 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots – Torched the Jets for 326 yards and 4 TDs, without a turnover.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers – Passed for 298 yards and 3 TDs, and added 39 yards as a rusher.
Michael Vick, QB, Eagles – Tallied 302 yards passing, 48 yards rushing and 3 TDs, with just 1 INT.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings – Ran for 107 yards and a TD trifecta. I guess he’s OK.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks – Ran for 83 yards and 3 TDs, plus a 17-yard catch.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles – Ran for 44 yards and 1 TD, and caught 8 passes for 86 yards and another score.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots – Scored twice while rushing for 72 yards.
Chris Ivory, RB, Saints – Rumbled for 117 yards and 2 TDs.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans – Combined for 119 yards and 2 TDs.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants – Totaled 105 yards and a pair of TDs.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants – He had 103 yards and a pair of his own.

Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts – Collected 14 catches for 200 yards and 1 TD.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers – Caught 6 passes for 122 yards and 2 TDs.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings – Hauled in 5 passes for 105 yards and a pair of scores.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers – Grabbed 4 passes for 126 yards and 1 TD.

Giants defense – Amassed 4 sacks, 6 turnovers and held Washington to 7 points.
Cowboys defense – Intercepted Peyton Manning 4 times, including 2 returned for TDs.

This was a great week to play against

Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Threw an interception on his only pass before getting knocked out of the game.
Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos – Passed for a measly 117 yards without a TD, plus a fumble.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets – Against one of the league’s softest secondaries, passed for only 164 yards and 3 INTs, without a score.
Sam Bradford, QB, Rams – Came up small against Arizona, with 187 yards and an INT, without a TD.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs – Had just 196 yards and 1 TD on the day.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants – Let the RBs carry the load, throwing for just 161 yards and 1 INT, without a score.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks – Threw 2 INTs and just 229 yards, with no TDs.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers – Was active, but you wouldn’t know it from the box score.
Donald Brown, RB, Colts – Limited to 4 yards apiece rushing and receiving. Mike Hart got 9 total yards while sharing carries.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals – Held to 24 rushing yards.
Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins – Finished with 29 rushing yards.
Brian Westbrook, RB, 49ers – Split carries evenly with Anthony Dixon, and gained just 31 yards.
Maurice Morris, RB, Lions – Ran for a paltry 37 yards against the Bears.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills – Totaled just 48 yards on the day.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs – The NFL's TD leader posted a goose egg.
Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks – Held catchless before leaving with another injury.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys – Caught a 14-yard pass before being lost for the season.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins – Caught 2 passes for 24 yards.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – His two catches for 31 yards led his entire team in receiving.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills – Just 2 catches for 36 yards.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants – Ditto.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets – He got 39 yards off his 2 receptions.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Waiver-wire wonders prove title-worthy

It’s that magical time of year again, when Santa takes requests at the local mall, true characters are exposed at company holiday parties and fantasy owners lament the injuries and draft-day miscues that cost them a shot at postseason glory.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but…Santa’s a bit over-extended on his credit cards, some people simply shouldn’t drink in public, and bad drafting wasn’t your problem.

Indeed, a quick scan over the rosters of most playoff teams reveals the indisputable truth about successful fantasy play: The real work begins after the draft.

Don’t believe me?

Tell me how confident you’d feel facing this lineup next weekend: Michael Vick, Peyton Hillis, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Lloyd, Steve Johnson, Sidney Rice, Marcedes Lewis, Dan Carpenter and the Seahawks defense.

I manage three formidable, playoff-bound teams, with a few of these players sprinkled on each; but I’m not sure any of my rosters could take down that gang. Of course, the common denominator is that virtually every one of these fantasy sensations went undrafted in the vast majority of leagues.

That’s not all. You could easily contend for a title with a plethora of other waiver-wire wonders, such as Kyle Orton, Sam Bradford, Mike Tolbert, Chris Ivory, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Marshawn Lynch, Tashard Choice, Jacob Tamme, Sebastian Janikowski and the Titans defense.

To be sure, none of the above is infallible. Orton, Bradford, Tolbert and Johnson each had lousy days at the office yesterday. But so did Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Chris Johnson. It happens.

So enough with the excuses, already. Frank Gore’s season-ending injury wouldn’t have been so devastating if you’d picked up Hillis after the season opener, would it? Stop poking holes in your Ryan Mathews voodoo doll, and blame yourself for not jumping on Tolbert when you had the chance. Heck, I don’t feel nearly as bad about taking Miles Austin in the second round, or Matt Schaub in the third, now that Johnson and Vick are in the fold.

We’d all love to set our starting lineups in Week 1 and never make anything but the occasional bye-week adjustments on our way to a 13-0 regular-season record and a first-round bye. But I haven’t seen that happen yet in my two-plus decades as a player. And I don’t think I ever will.

Just something to ponder for those of you whose fantasy season has come to an abrupt, and premature, end. There’s always next season.


To win a fantasy championship, you need to start with a good draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents can also make a big difference. Here’s a look at a few players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else’s line-up.

Catch ‘em while you can

James Starks, RB, Packers. The rookie bruiser was given the bulk of the backfield workload on Sunday, and he responded with 18 carries for 73 yards. Brandon Jackson saw four meaningless carries, and was relegated mostly to pass-catching duties. Starks is a big back whose talents will likely be utilized even more as the weather deteriorates up North. He could prove to be a genuine late-season gem.

Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys. I urged you to grab him last week, but that advice went unheeded by many. In fact, Choice is still available in the vast majority of fantasy leagues. After Sunday’s 100-yard, one-touchdown performance, perhaps the doubters will be convinced that Choice is the best back in Dallas. Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett, in particular.

Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys. No, I’m not drinking the silver and blue Kool-Aid. But with Dez Bryant done for the season with a fractured ankle, Williams gets a new lease on his fantasy life. The Cowboys’ upcoming schedule offers favorable matchups with the Redskins and Cardinals, but Williams remains little more than a desperation play. Miles Austin and Jason Witten are more likely to capitalize on Bryant’s absence.

Don’t be fooled

Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Vikings. He looked sharp against the Bills in relief of the injured Brett Favre. Alas, the ageless one isn’t necessarily going to miss his first start since the Vietnam War with a sprained shoulder; and even if he does, the Giants won’t be as accommodating as the Bills were. At the postseason looms, I hope you’re not counting on either Minnesota passer.

Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks. A foot injury will cost the Seahawks’ leading receiver at least one game, and probably more. Though his renaissance is one of the most compelling stories of the NFL season, he’s not so valuable that you should keep him on your bench “just in case.” Feel free to make room for other potential contributors. Amazingly, Sidney Rice is a free agent in nearly half of all leagues.

Todd Heap, TE, Ravens. He won’t be available to help you in Week 14, and most likely not beyond that, either, thanks to a hamstring injury he incurred against the Steelers. You’ll need to go waiver-wire shopping if Heap’s your tight end.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday morning updates - Week 13

Good morning, Fools, and happy Sunday. For most of us, this is the last weekend of the fantasy regular season. I hope all Fools are either set for the postseason or in the hunt for a playoff berth.

For me, a Week 14 bye is at stake in one league, and seeding in the other three. It's all about putting up massive points today. Fortunately, I have Vick and Foster in one league, Shady in two others, and Vick in one more. Thursday was bery, bery good to me...

OK, enough about me. Let's see what's in store for our favorite players today:

All eyes will be on the Vikings' inactives report in less than an hour, when we'll know AP's status. Again, if you own Peterson and don't have Toby Gerhart ready to roll just in case, you've made a huge mistake. One of those guys -- possibly even both -- are in for a big day against the Bills' pathetic run defense.

Big Ben's foot is still acting up, but you can bet he'll start tonight. I don't expect much from him, though. As mentioned in Friday's Starters & Benchwarmers column, he hasn't thrown for more than 1 TD in a game against the Ravens since 2007.

Shaun Hill is out (again), and Matt Stafford is also on the shelves, so the Drew Stanton Experiment returns to Detroit today. Megatron's owners can take some solace in knowing that Stanton connected with him for an 87-yard TD back in Week 6 against the Giants.

For the second straight year, Bruce Gradkowski will end the season on injured reserve, leaving Jason Campbell firmly entrenched as the starting QB in Oakland. Fortunately for those hoping for more glad tidings from Jacoby Ford, the speedster has shown that he can excel with either passer at the controls.

In what is surely one of the most unremarkable "good news" announcements I've heard in some time, Kerry Collins is expected to return to Tennessee's starting lineup today. While this piques my interest in Nate Washington, I wouldn't let Randy Moss anywhere near my starting lineup until he shows up for at least one game as a Titan.

Brian Westbrook practiced Friday after sitting out Wed and Thurs. No worries, he'll start. But how well -- and how much -- will he play against the Packers' run defense? I picked him up in one league, but won't be starting him. Just not expecting big things out of him or the 49ers overall today.

Looks like Tolbert and Mathews will split carries for the Chargers today. If I had to choose between the two, I'd stick with Tolbert, who has been a reliable scorer. And Mathews has an unfortunate knack for disappearing soon after re-appearing.

Addai won't play (for the 6th consecutive week), but Mike Hart is back. Look for him to share carries with Donald Brown, which is bad news for both. Javarris James likely goes back to the sidelines, with Hart more likely to see the goal-line carries.

As I said in Friday's Sporting News column, if you believe Pierre Thomas will be active this week, I've got a pool of subprime mortgages I'd love to sell you...

Jahvid Best is expected to get some carries today, but not as many as Maurice Morris. I don't like either's chances much against the Bears' tough D, but Best's turf toes, in particular, should be nowhere near your starting lineup.

Brandon Marshall is expected to be full-go today; but beware: Hamstrings have a way of acting up in their first game action after an extended absence. You probably have to start Marshall if you own him, but be prepared for him to be limited, or even exit early.

Malcom Floyd will be active today, but Antonio Gates is a huge question mark (some early reports said he was ruled out, but those were apparently erroneous, or at least premature), and V-Jax and Crayton are out. I still think we might see another big game from Seyi Ajirotutu, and possibly even Legedu Naanee. But I wouldn't start either flier over more established wideouts. It's just a hunch; nothing more.

Fret not, Greg Jennings owners. X-rays on his swollen foot were negative, and he will be good to go today. Donald Driver, on the other hand, is still nursing a quad injury and isn't a good fantasy bet regardless of his playing status.

Mike Sims-Walker has already been ruled out of today's matchup.

Jeremy Shockey is no longer on the Saints' injury report, signaling his return to action today.

Jason Hanson has been placed on injured reserve, meaning Dave Rayner will finish the season as the Lions' kicker.

Jeff Reed has been signed by the 49ers and is expected to kick this weekend while Joe Nedney continues to rehab his knee. Shane Andrus has been released.

Kris Brown was brought in for an audition by the Jets but wasn't signed. Nick Folk has officially been placed on notice, as have you.

That's it for now. Make sure you're following my tweets (@ladd_biro) for the inactives and other late-breaking news. Good luck today, Fools!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Week 13 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and Dwayne Bowe, or bench Derek Anderson and C.J. Spiller? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for real help with your starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 13 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams at Cardinals. He threw three interceptions in his first meeting with the Cardinals, which also was his first game as a pro. Arizona won’t recognize the Bradford they see Sunday, who is playing lights-out despite his supporting cast of no-names.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers at Seahawks. After rushing for nearly 100 yards in Week 12 against the Browns, Stewart appears to be back at full strength. Though Mike Goodson has earned a share of the carries going forward, he has been missing practice this week due to the “stress” associated with his wife’s late-term pregnancy. Hmm. Seattle’s pathetic run defense awaits.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears at Lions. He has been a little better than average over the last several weeks, but at least Chester Taylor is no longer a major competitor for carries. Now Forte faces the team he torched for 201 combined yards and two TDs in Week 1.

Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets at Patriots. He’s taken a backseat to Santonio Holmes, who is now an every-week fantasy starter. But Edwards should be in your lineup, too, against a Patriots secondary that is coughing up a league-worst 288 passing yards per game.

Jabar Gaffney, WR, Broncos at Chiefs. Denver’s wideouts all had fun the last time these teams met, with Gaffney pulling in one of five passing TDs. Look for Kyle Orton, Brandon Lloyd and Gaffney to have another fine afternoon against Kansas City’s slumping secondary.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Jay Cutler, Matt Cassel, David Garrard, Eli Manning, Mark Sanchez; RBs Jamaal Charles, Felix Jones, Brandon Jacobs, LaDainian Tomlinson, Knowshon Moreno; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Stevie Johnson, Santonio Holmes, Pierre Garcon, Johnny Knox, Davone Bess, Percy Harvin, Mario Manningham, Mike Williams (TB), Derrick Mason, Dez Bryant.

Roll ‘em back

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers at Ravens. He has been limping through practice on an injured foot – either broken or sprained, depending on whom you believe – but he should play Sunday night. Just don’t count on much against the Ravens’ stingy pass defense. Big Ben hasn’t connected on more than a single TD pass in a game against Baltimore since 2007.

Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders at Chargers. McFadden’s production has fallen off precipitously over the past three weeks, and he appears to be wearing down with the heavy workload. The NFL’s second-ranked run defense is an unlikely opponent to allow him to rebound.

Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins at Giants. His 15 minutes of fantasy fame may be over, even though Ryan Torain (hamstring) is unlikely to return this week. James Davis is now sharing backfield carries and Washington’s offensive line isn’t opening holes for either rusher lately.

Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals vs. Saints. New Orleans continues to hold opposing receivers out of the end zone, while Cincinnati’s starting wideouts were shut down by the Jets in Week 12. Look for both trends to continue this weekend.

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers at Packers. He has caught all three of Troy Smith’s TD passes over the past four games, which tells you all you need to know about Smith’s fantasy value. But Crabtree’s yardage and targets have been mediocre. Green Bay has allowed just 10 passing TDs all season, so don’t expect much from the duo on the frozen tundra.

More thumbs down: QBs Brett Favre, Kerry Collins, Joe Flacco, Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell; RBs Ronnie Brown, Maurice Morris, Marshawn Lynch, Donald Brown, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brian Westbrook, Mike Goodson; WRs Malcom Floyd, Santana Moss, Ben Obomanu, Miles Austin, Jacoby Ford, Deion Branch, Donald Driver, Anquan Boldin, Brandon Marshall.


Seyi Ajirotutu, WR, Chargers vs. Raiders. Vincent Jackson barely made a cameo appearance before injuring his groin; Malcom Floyd is still bothered by a hamstring; Antonio Gates may not play due to his feet issues and Patrick Crayton (wrist) is already ruled out. Ajirotutu and Legedu Naanee may be Philip Rivers’ last healthy wideouts standing, which could open the door for solid production from one or both vowel-blessed receivers.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHOfails to check on Adrian Peterson’s playing status on Sunday morning (on your own or via my tweets). He’ll be a game-time decision; and if he doesn’t go, Toby Gerhart could be in for a monster outing against the Bills’ sieve-like run defense.