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The Lowdown - Week 3

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Welcome to The Lowdown for Week 3. This is my little corner of the fantasy football universe—feel free to pull up a chair and stay a while!

T-Rich Traded

In a trade that I never saw coming, the Browns traded RB Trent Richardson to the Colts in exchange for a first-round pick in 2014. The new regime in Cleveland was obviously not enamored of Richardson and felt no obligation to Mike Holmgren’s legacy and simply shipped the No. 3 overall pick from 2012 out of town.

It’s also obvious that the Browns are tanking the current season, as they named Brian Hoyer, the third-stringer, to be the starting QB in place of injured Brandon Wheeden.

It’s clear that the Browns looked around the league and realized that they’ll never be in the money without a legit QB under center; I get that. I also get that GM Michael Lombardi wouldn’t be all that upset if Cleveland went 2-14 this season in order to have a top pick in the 2014 Draft so they could grab a QB like Teddy Bridgewater. What I don’t get is trading a promising RB like Richardson to the Colts, a likely playoff contender whose pick next season will be in the bottom half of the first round. I mean, the Browns could have tanked and kept Richardson, right?

The trade also solidifies the overwhelming opinion of GMs that, more than ever, the NFL is a pure passing league; success begins and ends with a top-flight QB, with a few speedy receivers in between. The new rules and restrictions on defensive players, coupled with the success of mobile young QB’s like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, have doomed the RB position to the status of a good linebacker: it’s necessary, but it can be worked around…

Having said all that, Richardson hit the jackpot: he’s going to a contender who will be more than willing to make good use of his skills. And did I mention that he’ll be out of Cleveland?

Making Friends

Looks like there’s more than fantasy football owners mad at Steelers’ O.C. Todd Haley. The man whose apparent mission in life is to reduce QB Ben Roethlisberger to a bigger version of Tim Tebow was called out this week by a different player; WR Antonio Brown. Yes, the offensive guru whose genius has resulted in his team averaging less than 10 points per game was called out by the most explosive player on his offense. Brown confronted Haley on the sideline Monday night against the Bengals and griped about not getting enough passes thrown his way. Seemed to work, as the squeaky wheel had his targets tripled in the second half—from two to six.

It’s about time that the Steelers brass realizes what most football fans have kown for a long time: Todd Haley stinks. It’s easy to look like a genius when Tom Brady is your QB and Bill Belichick is keeping you in line—but since then, Haley has done nothing to warrant his “genius” label. And rumor is that he’s not exactly the type of personality that allows him to continuously screw up and still be loved by his followers.

I assume that Roethlisberger would be complaining about Haley as well, except that he’s so dumbfounded by the play-calling that he can't even speak.

Stay Away from “Experts”

People often ask me which other fantasy writers I follow. Being in this business for nearly 20 years, perhaps they want to know who my influences were breaking in, or perhaps they are just looking for knowledgeable writers that don’t make them dizzy from horrible puns and infantile analogies.

Whatever the reason, my honest answer to the question of which other fantasy writers I follow is… no one. The closest I get to following another writer is Tom Casale , and that’s only because he worked for me at Sports Grumblings. I've always loved his style of writing, and I think he should be a lot more famous than he is. But generally speaking, I don’t like to read other fantasy writers’ work because I don’t want them to influence my own analysis.

Except for last week. Doing some last-minute research prior to setting my lineups on Sunday, I came across Michael Fabianos recommendation to sit Bills’ WR Stevie Johnson. Now, I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep or some cosmic alignment of planets, but I inexplicably ignored my own analysis and sat Johnson in favor of the likes of Rueben Randle and Marlon Brown in four of my leagues. You know how this story ends…

Nothing against Fabiano; I’ve known Michael for years and occasionally work with him as we’re both members of the Board of Directors of the FSWA. Great guy and great analyst. Everyone makes the wrong call on occasion; but as a writer, there’s no worse feeling of regret in this hobby/obsession than when you bench a guy in order to play someone else’s hunch, and then watch as your original guy tears it up.

So, I am once again swearing off the other experts. Just let me know if Casale starts complaining about his cousin Sal again… because there’s always exceptions to a rule.

Brewing Storm in Tampa

As a rookie head coach, I thought Greg Schiano was a huge jerk; his whole rah-rah demeanor combined with hard-nosed drill instructor was a recipe for disaster. Of course, the fact that the Bucs were winning mitigated his grating personality—but now that the season has started off slowly, cracks are beginning to show.

Reports out of Tampa the past week seemed to indicate a brewing mutiny amongst Bucs players against Schiano. First, the rumblings that he rigged the captaincy vote to ensure that QB Josh Freeman wouldn’t be elected a captain emerged; then reports that DB Darrelle Revis was unhappy with his role.

Freeman hasn’t really said much regarding the vote, but Revis felt the need to come out and state that he had no problems with Schiano and that he was happy to be in Tampa. Likely translation: we got problems here in Tampa.

Oh, and speaking of Revis, it amazes me when a team brings in a top man-to-man cover corner and then tries to shoehorn him into becoming a zone corner. Notably, it happened when the Eagles acquired Nnamdi Asomugha and then tried to have him play zone coverage; the result was disastrous for both Asomugha and the Eagles. Hopefully, Revis’ little tete-a-tete with Schiano will result in the Bucs letting Revis be Revis—but somehow I doubt that it will.

Unless the Bucs pull off some sort of crazy in-season turnaround and make the playoffs, I have the feeling that Schiano will (and should) be run out of Tampa at the end of the season.



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