Wednesday - Jan 16, 2019

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The Fire Sale – Week 9

I would like to take a second to honor a coach who is re-writing the history books. I don’t think enough people are talking about this man but his last four years coaching football have left such an imprint that his name is in the record books of one of the most storied college programs in America and one of the most recognizable professional sports franchises on the planet. Of course, all of the records he’s set have been for futility, but hey, is your name in any record books? I’m talking about the great Monte Kiffin.

In just eight games with the Dallas Cowboys, Kiffin’s outdated Tampa 2 defense has allowed four 400-yard passers, one 300-yard receiver, set a franchise record for most yards given up in a game (623) and currently ranks dead last in both passing and total defense. This is after Kiffin spent three years at USC setting all-time records for most points and yards allowed in school history. Yet somehow this guy continues to get a paycheck because he was a good coach a decade ago.

The reality is Kiffin hasn’t coached a good defense in six years. The coaching profession and how some sheep fans perceive it is mind-boggling to me. Just because a guy used to be a good coach doesn’t mean he’s still a good coach. The defenses Kiffin has put on the field over the last three seasons and the records they’ve set are some of the worst defenses in a three-year span the sport has ever seen.

Let me make a comparison. I’m not arguing that Kiffin wasn’t a tremendous coach at one point in his career. However, say a CEO back in the late 1990s/early 2000s was in charge of two different businesses and made them millions. He would be considered a great CEO. Now say that same CEO just finished running his second straight business into the ground. Would he still be considered a great CEO or a guy who had lost his touch? Coaching is no different. Kiffin may have been a great coach years ago, but from 2008 on he’s been awful. That’s not my opinion, it’s a documented fact.

Oh well, what can I do? I’m just a guy who sees the facts and repeats them. Jerry Jones is someone who lives in his own world and for that reason the Cowboys will never again win a Super Bowl. When I say never, I mean not in my lifetime which is about 30-40 more years, if I catch a break. It will not happen, so if you’re planning on it happening, make other plans.

I hate to disappoint the 18 people who read this column but next week will be the one time this season I won’t be able to publish it. I’m in graduate school and I have an important seminar next weekend that ends Monday morning and then I’ll be traveling all day. I was going to try and put something up, but bottom line is I won’t be following the games very closely, so my observations would be less meaningful than normal. I’ll be back in two weeks, when if my guess is correct, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a new head coach.

Now on with The Fire Sale …



Going Up


Darius Johnson, WR, Atlanta – Johnson was my top deep draft sleeper because I watched him play most of his career at Southern Methodist. I grew up a Pony Express/Oklahoma Sooner wishbone fan, so I still gravitate to those two teams today.

Johnson was an underrated player in college and went undrafted. I believe his lack of size hurt him in the drafting process but he showed the Falcons enough to make their practice squad and then on Sunday caught four passes for 40 yards on nine targets. Now people are going to argue that Johnson doesn’t have any value and once
Roddy White

comes back he’ll never see the field. They may be right, but because I had a hunch on Johnson I want to point out something about him.

Think about how far Johnson has come since May. He’s gone from not getting drafted to barely playing in the preseason to making the practice squad to getting signed to the active roster to seeing nine targets in an NFL game. Say what you want, but most undrafted free agents never make it that far, especially in their rookie season.

I know the Falcons have injuries. I know
Matt Ryan

had to throw the ball 61 times on Sunday. I know White is expected back at some point. Now let me play devil’s advocate for a second. Ryan may have to keep throwing the ball a ton because the Falcons can’t run it and their defense stinks. This is one of those years where Atlanta may keep racking up injuries. Nothing has gone right for the Falcons in 2013 and sometimes teams have years where that doesn’t change. Maybe White does come back and re-injures himself or maybe we don’t see him for another month. Who knows? The Falcons’ season is in the toilet. They certainly aren’t going to rush him back now.

I saw something in Johnson at Southern Methodist. He ran excellent routes and made plays, despite playing with awful quarterbacks. Don’t get faked out by the numbers you see from Southern Methodist quarterbacks. Any quarterback can throw for 500 yards against Temple when they attempt 60 passes. Those are empty stats. June Jones has done very little for that program. Johnson’s numbers in college would have been even better if he had a quarterback that could hit him on the run instead of sailing passes over his head most of the time.

Does Johnson have fantasy value right now? Not really. However, he’s a name I would keep an eye on. Ryan has shown he can throw to pretty much anyone, and if the Falcons get one more injury at receiver, I would strongly advise grabbing Johnson right away.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh – I’m all jazzed up because Johnson got in the game this week, so I’m sticking with former Southern Methodist receivers. Sanders isn’t a stud fantasy player by any means but I always talk at this point in the season about building the backend of my bench for playoff time.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to the playoffs and injuries have struck. Think about some of the tomato cans you have started in competitive leagues over the years because either injuries or situations left you a little thin at a certain position. Sanders is a guy that fantasy owners in points per reception leagues can get double-digit points out of most weeks if they have to toss him in their lineup.

Sanders caught seven passes for 88 yards and a touchdown against Oakland. He’s now caught at least four passes in five games this year and has topped 50 yards receiving five times as well. Take a look at Sanders’ targets since Week 1: 12, 10, eight, eight, six, two and 11. Most weeks Sanders is getting a lot of looks from
Ben Roethlisberger

.

The Steelers can’t run the ball so Roethlisberger is going to have to throw it a lot the rest of the year. Sanders has been a decent fantasy receiver through seven games and he has a shot to be even better over the second half of the season. I would pick him up if you’re looking to add depth at receiver.

Arizona D/ST – The stars really have to align for me to talk about a defense in this column. There aren’t enough stars out there for me to talk about a kicker. However, I think I got something with this Arizona Cardinals defense/special teams.

The Cardinals head into their bye week after dismantling Atlanta. Arizona recorded four sacks and intercepted
Matt Ryan

four times. For the season the Cardinals now have 23 sacks, 12 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries. While those are impressive numbers, it’s the Cardinals’ remaining schedule that really excites me.

Following their bye, Arizona faces Houston, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tennessee, Seattle and San Francisco. Most of those teams have an unsettled quarterback situation right now. Seriously, that’s a fantasy defense’s dream other than the fact that the Cardinals have to play in Seattle in Week 16 when most owners have their fantasy Super Bowls. Still though, Arizona is set up to be one of the highest scoring fantasy defenses over the second half of the season.

The Cardinals’ defense is still available in more than half of fantasy leagues. If your defense has been a disappointment or you have been playing matchups and Arizona is available in your league, I would suggest grabbing the Cardinals now.

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