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Fantasy News of the Week – 12/6

Steve Smith is like Freddy Krueger?

Through the first half of last week’s game at the legendary Lambeau Field, the Panthers wideout was shut down by the Packers secondary, leading some to believe he was in for another Raider-like performance. But then something sparked, as the Panthers fell behind late, and four receptions and 105 yards later,

Smith had his team in position at the one-yard line with a chance to win with just two minutes to play. And, just four days later, according to the
Charlotte Observer,

Tampa

Bay coach Jon Gruden is comparing him to Freddy Krueger. “That guy

Steve Smith, he’s a nightmare, man,” Gruden said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “He’s like Freddy Krueger to me. He scares the (heck) out of me. Every film I pick up, he’s brilliant. He makes some of the darndest catches. I don’t like to see Steve.” Neither do opposing fantasy owners. This season has been the re-birth of a star in

Carolina as Smith has consistently been good on a week-to-week basis. In fact, the game against the Raiders in Week 10 was his only outing where he didn’t record either four receptions and/or 60 receiving yards. He’s averaging a little over five receptions and almost 96 receiving yards per game since arriving in Week 3 this season. Oh, and those worried about the

Tampa

Bay defense — don’t be. In his last game against the Buccaneers, Smith recorded six receptions for 112 yards. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t be afraid to start him if you have him!

Does coach McCarthy have confidence in Mr. Rodgers late in games?

It’s no secret that the Green Bay Packers have had problems closing out games as of late. Three of their last four losses have been decided by four points or less, and in all of those games the offense had a chance to put a dagger in to the opposing defense and twist, but failed. So what happened? Some may argue that it’s Mike McCarthy’s play-calling aptitude, or lack thereof, late in games. Others will blame

Aaron Rodgers himself, as No. 4 lurks in the

New York background. The real answer may lie in between though, as according to
JSOnline.com, there’s a feeling that the Packers head coach may not have enough confidence in his developing quarterback to allow him to win games late.  McCarthy responded with this: “I don’t think that’s accurate. I don’t think that’s fair,” McCarthy said. “I mean look at the two plays called before the first down. One of them was a shock play where we’re attacking the end zone. They played coverage and he rolled out of the pocket and scrambled and (Julius) Peppers hit him so we got a first down on that.”  As for

Rodgers himself; “The way he called that last drive, I think, proves it,” said Rodgers, whose 106.8 passer rating on third down is the league’s third-best mark behind

Drew Brees and

Tony Romo, and has the most third-down touchdown passes (11). Obviously I’d love to have the ball in my hands but I like all three of the calls. I do. I think everybody did.” No surprises here — they both agree. What’s even more puzzling about the

Carolina game is that Rodgers threw 45 passes throughout, but didn’t throw a pass during the last three plays near the goal line. Nonetheless, Rodgers continues to prove he’s more than capable of meeting the fantasy standards set before him, so for now … just keep starting him!  

Ravens’ three-pronged rushing attack poses problems for defenses.

According to the
Washington Times, the Baltimore Ravens have a great dilemma they get to face every week — too many running backs from which to choose. Now that

Willis McGahee,

Ray Rice and LeRon McClain are all healthy they need to find playing time for each of them as they bring different elements to the game that keep defenses guessing. “Those guys have different styles and different talents,” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said Thursday. “To use them in different situations, it makes it difficult for the defense when you’re facing the varied speed and quickness and [toughness] of those guys. It’s a real advantage.” The Ravens have run the ball 452 times this season, accounting for 56% of its offensive plays. “A lot of teams don’t have two backs [who get a lot of work]. They feature running the football, they play to their defense and they use the running game to protect their quarterback and keep them out of long-yardage situations,” Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. “They run the same thing [regardless of who’s playing], and all are comfortable running the same offense.  They plug one in for the other depending on who’s healthy. The last few weeks, [McGahee] hasn’t played, and the other two have run and looked very impressive.” The really bad news for McGahee owners is that if the Ravens stick with their gameplan every week there is no guarantee he’s going to be running the football consistently, which may be a major problem for teams heading in to their fantasy playoffs.

Shark Attack:

Injury/News Rundown

According to the
Houston Chronicle, Texans quarterback

Matt Schaub appears to be ready to roll this week. “He looks like the same old Matt — slow,” right tackle Eric Winston said. “So, there’s nothing that’s going to change about Matt. But, no, he’s fine. He really looks good. Other than that brace he’s wearing now, he looks the same running, the same speed. He’s throwing the ball well. He’s moving around, same command in the huddle. He’ll be fine.” He remains listed as probable for the Texans showdown at Lambeau.  

According to the
St Louis Post-Dispatch, Rams running back

Steven Jackson has patched things up with head coach Jim Haslett since speaking out against his coach being labeled as “gassed.” “We’re fine,” Haslett said Thursday. “There’s no issues at all, nothing at all. He’s a good guy, works hard, and we’re just glad to have him back and ready to go.” As for the star running back when asked on Thursday; “Oh, OK,”

Jackson said. “Me and Coach Haslett, we’re good. We’ve been able to kind of look back at that (sound bite) and just laugh about it. Everything’s fine. … He explained it to me like he explained it to you guys. He was more talking about the quad muscle fatiguing and not so much my lung capacity.”

According to
Buffalo News, the Bills will go with J.P. Losman as their starter this week due to

Trent Edwards’ nagging groin injury; a spot that Losman knows won’t be easy, but is prepared and wants to be in. “It’s not easy coming to work knowing that you’re not getting the reps, you’re not practicing, you’re not participating, it’s hard to feel a part of the team, all those things. And all of a sudden, you get thrown back in the fire last week, and in an instant it all snaps back. Guys are looking to you for the answers. You’re back in the position that you want to be in. It’s very, very fun. It’s the greatest job in the world.”

According to
Dayton Daily News, Bengals wide receiver

Chris Henry’s game has slipped a bit since re-joining the team this season, and time may be running out for the troublemaker. “I’ve forgotten how it feels to be in the end zone,” he said in preparation for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Dec. 7. “But I’m going to keep working and try to make it happen this week. That’s all I can do.”

According to the
Dallas Morning News, Cowboys running back

Marion Barber did not practice this week, so the likelihood that he’ll play on Sunday is growing slim. “We were assuming that

Marion would play, but it’s a little more doubtful right now, so we’ll see [today],” coach Wade Phillips said. Barber remains listed as questionable.  If he can’t go, rookie

Tashard Choice would probably start in his place.  

According to the
Washington Post, running back

Clinton Portis was watching practice from the sideline this week due to stiffness in his neck. “He’s still trying to loosen up his stiff neck,” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. “I think we’ve talked about it for the same way the last three weeks. And each week, he seems to start getting a little bit better, but he did take a pretty good bash in the head. It really did stiffen up his neck like a whiplash.” … Portis remains listed as questionable.

 

According to the
Minneapolis Star Tribune, Vikings running back

Adrian Peterson’s body is starting to recover from the beating he received in their Sunday win over the Bears. “I took a shot on my right knee, my left knee, my ankle, my foot, my hip,” the running back said Thursday. “I took so many shots, but I’m feeling pretty good.”

According to the
Camden Courier-Post, even though he missed a second straight of practice on Friday, Eagles running back

Brian Westbrook is expected to play against the Giants on Sunday. “Today I kept him off the turf,” coach Andy Reid said. “That’s the main thing, the artificial turf. He should be fine.”  Westbrook remains listed as questionable.

IDP Injury Report

Out: LB

Marcus Washington (ankle), DE

Dewayne White (calf), S Atari Bigby (shoulder), DE

Antwan Odom (shoulder), LB

Gary Brackett (fibula), CB

Jabari Greer (knee), DE

Aaron Schobel (foot), LB

Donnie Edwards (knee), CB

Patrick Surtain (quadricep), and CB

Mike Jenkins (hamstring).

Doubtful:

S Chinedum Ndukwe (foot), and LB

DJ Williams (knee).

Questionable: LB

London Fletcher (foot), DE

Andre Carter (foot), CB

Shawn Springs (calf), S Ed Reed (thigh), CB

Samari Rolle (thigh), DE

Adewale Ogunleye (shoulder), S Will Demps (hamstring), S Bob Sanders (knee), S Erik Coleman (quadriceps), CB

Corey Webster (back), DE

Corey Williams (shoulder), CB

Nick Harper (ankle), CB

Cortland Finnegan (hamstring), S Donte Whitner (shoulder), S Marlon McCree (ankle), CB

Champ Bailey (groin), S Eric Smith (head), CB

Nate Clements (thumb), LB

Clark Haggans (foot), CB

Ellis Hobbs (shoulder), DE

Ty Warren (groin), LB

Leroy Hill (neck), and DE

Gaines Adams (hip).

Probable: LB

Bart Scott (shoulder), DE

Jared Allen (shoulder), S Darren Sharper (ankle), S Aaron Rouse (ankle), CB

Asante Samuel (neck), DE

Tamba Hali (ankle), LB

Will Witherspoon (shoulder), S Adrian Wilson (shoulder), LB

Demarcus Ware (knee), S Troy Polamalu (calf), DE

Aaron Smith (knee), and CB

Ken Lucas (head).

2008 Team Defense

Rank  

Team  

Total YPG

Rush YPG

Pass YPG

PPG  

1

Steelers

238.0

71.2

166.8

14.2

2

Ravens

253.3

78.3

175.1

15.8

3

Giants

279.1

85.4

193.7

17.2

4

Buccaneers

279.5

95.4

184.1

16.7

5

Titans

281.8

97.2

184.6

14.6

6

Redskins

283.0

90.8

192.2

18.5

7

Eagles

286.3

93.5

192.8

20.8

8

Vikings

293.0

73.1

219.9

21.7

9

Cowboys

296.8

96.8

200.0

21.7

10

Cardinals

313.0

97.5

215.5

26.1

11

Panthers

313.3

112.8

200.5

19.3

12

Bills

314.8

109.8

205.0

21.6

13

Patriots

317.4

105.6

211.8

21.3

14

Jaguars

319.5

115.0

204.5

22.5

15

Colts

322.2

133.8

188.3

20.8

16

Packers

329.3

141.7

187.6

24.6

17

Bears

329.3

88.8

240.5

22.3

18

Dolphins

330.0

97.0

233.0

21.4

19

Jets

331.3

82.1

249.2

22.3

20

Saints

338.3

114.0

224.3

25.1

21

Texans

338.4

128.8

209.6

25.8

22

Falcons

339.1

116.7

222.4

20.2

23

49ers

347.9

108.2

239.8

26.1

24

Bengals

349.3

131.6

217.8

25.8

25

Chargers

351.8

102.9

248.9

21.6

26

Raiders

352.6

158.7

193.9

23.0

27

Browns

356.8

141.3

215.5

20.6

28

Broncos

380.6

144.3

236.3

26.6

29

Rams

382.7

161.8

220.9

30.0

30

Seahawks

386.7

121.5

265.2

25.9

31

Lions

394.3

176.9

217.4

32.8

32

Chiefs

395.0

163.7

231.3

28.3

Speaking Out: Unions; what can you say?

This week’s topic is quite a controversial one, and it extends to pretty much everyone who is associated with a union. The stem of my argument surrounds the recent ridiculous grievance the NFLPA filed on behalf of

Plaxico Burress.  

“The NFLPA is still reviewing the actions taken by the New York Giants relating to

Plaxico Burress, but we intend to file a grievance challenging those actions as we believe that Burress’ rights have been violated under the CBA,” the NFLPA said in a statement.

First off, I want to say that I understand the benefits of having unions, and know that they’re needed in most cases, but when are the BS grievances going to stop, especially in the NFL. I’ve seen first-hand what unions do to production and after a few months of standing around doing nothing on the job site I decided I’m done and left. They’re a joke in most cases, and it’s a shame that everyone has to suffer.    

The bottom line is that

Burress had no business carrying a loaded gun in to a club, and it all stems from the today-athletes with their rebelish attitudes thinking they’re above the law because little Johnny watches them on his father’s 52” television set every week catch touchdown passes. Enough is enough!

The funny thing is that I’m starting to believe that the unions are the root cause of all the increased criminal activity among players. I mean, think about it, if you had a union behind you wouldn’t you do more crazy stuff in your free time, knowing damn well that somebody will try and bail you out in the end?

I guess Plaxico did, and the part that scares me is that

Antonio Pierce didn’t do the honest thing and speak up for what was truly right.  It just goes to show how irresponsible sports athletes as a whole have become.  I’m just glad I had the opportunity to see real role models play like Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith as I grew up, because if I had to watch some of the head cases of this generation I might have turned the game off.

If you have any comments, questions, or disagree with anything seen in the Speaking Out portion of this column please feel free to drop me an e-mail at e.huber12@yahoo.com.

Thanks for reading!

About Fantasy Sharks

FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.