I learned something very valuable about myself and about fantasy football last week. What I learned was that while I may consider myself a bright man in waiver pickups and injury replacements, I’m really not. Not even close. This is what happens when you try to get cute with your roster.
Very quick summary: With Adam Vinatieri out, I needed a replacement kicker. Solid options like Robbie Gould and Rian Lindell had been taken during the waiver process. I decided on Ryan Longwell, knowing that the Vikings game against the Bears would be low scoring and provide him with some FG opportunities. I saw John Kasay playing Tampa and had similar thoughts. Then I saw Josh Scobee available and thought, “Well, Jacksonville will play Indy tough, should be a bunch of field goals in that one, too.” So for reasons I can’t understand, I picked up Scobee instead. Then I decided to sit the up-to-this-point mediocre Colts DST in favor of the hot Bills DST against the Jets, blatantly ignoring the Daunte Culpepper factor from last week.
The following occurs: Scobee misses two field goals and the Bills D craps out while Longwell and Kasay play kickball and the Colts score their first DST touchdown of the season. I lose by 10 points. A lay-up win turned into a crushing, season-haunting loss. Why? Because I didn’t stick with the DST that I drafted, and I tried to get cute at that position as well as at kicker. Stick to your guns, people. Take it from the idiot writer.
Onto our recap of last week—with one storyline updated for the new list:
· Faced with a decent defense for the first time this season, Rex Grossman did not blow the roof off the Metrodome, but did come through with a late TD to beat the Vikings that showed signs of maturity. You may see similar struggles this week against the tough Seattle D.
· Conversely, Jake Plummer finally played up to the standard his owners expected when they drafted him. Of course, it just happens to be the week that everyone benched him and he also has a bye the following week. I swear he does it on purpose.
· Atlanta’s running game was stopped cold in the Saints return to New Orleans, giving conspiracy theorists another reason to believe the NFL is fixed. The Falcons should rebound this week against Arizona, especially with Kurt Warner turning the ball over like Kerry Collins circa 2001.
· Ah, the Brothers Manning. Yes, them again. Both continue their torrid pace, with Peyton even adding a rare rushing TD against the Jaguars. However, Eli seems on the verge of the one of the craziest seasons a fantasy QB can put together. If the Giants keep playing defense like this, he will be continually throwing from the no-huddle during the latter portions of games. He’s averaging nearly 300 yards a game and has 8 touchdowns after three games—that projects to 4,000+ yards and more than 40 TDs for the season. We’ll see what happens when the Giants come back from the bye.
Now onto all the storylines that are fit to pop in your mouth while your soon-to-be-ex publicist dials 911:
T.O.: Is there even a witty headline that could do this justice?
I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be a Terrell Owens owner these last couple of weeks. Broken finger…how long will he be out…the steel plate…he says he’ll make the Tennessee game. Then you wake up Wednesday morning and you see the word “hospital”, then the word “medication”, then the dreaded “suicide”. Now all we’re left with are questions. Did he or didn’t he try to off himself? Was this all another well-orchestrated stunt? Is Owens legitimately psychotic? Will his publicist ever get another client? Will he now play this week? Have Parcells’ man-breasts exploded yet from the strain? We may never know these answers, but for now owners should keep T.O. on the bench before they themselves start having suicidal tendencies.
The Madden Curse lives…doesn’t it?
Shaun Alexander further injured his already sore foot in the romp against the Giants, causing everyone who didn’t own him to bask in the glory of the Madden Curse. However, today CBS Sportsline was reporting that Alexander—who was supposed to miss two to four weeks—is “feeling frisky” and could try to play this week. With football fans around the world wondering how a cracked foot could heal so quickly, we were provided with the secret to miraculous recovery: prayer. Who knew God was a Seahawks fan? Here’s some advice from a mortal: stick with Maurice Morris or whatever other running back option you have this week.
Steve Smith returns
Does he even have a nickname? Somebody should come up with one if he doesn’t. It’s amazing what the return of a stud WR can do for the fortunes of a team, be it actual or fantasy. Smith’s return (7 catches, 112 yards) opened up Carolina’s offense, and led to 26 points—12 on the foot of John Kasay—for the Panthers to avoid starting the season 0-3. His presence affected Jake Delhomme like we all knew it would (his best game of the season), and provided Keyshawn Johnson owners (2 TDs) with hope for a T.J. Housh-like season playing alongside Smith. It looks probable that Smith will be ready to go again this week, when the Panthers host the surging first-place New Orleans Saints.
Saints march on
Wait, what did you say? Yes, that’s right; the Saints are undefeated after bludgeoning the Falcons 23-3 on Monday night. Rigged game theories aside, America got to see that New Orleans has some quality players on offense. Although he didn’t throw a TD, Drew Brees managed the game and looked like a good backup QB for fantasy footballers. While the running backs didn’t impress, Mr. Random™ contender Marques Colston continued his stellar start with 7 catches for 97 yards (See this week’s update on the Mr. Random competition below). And we’ve all known that John Carney’s been a solid kicker for years. Can the Saints maintain their winning ways? Maybe not with that defense, but they should offer decent fantasy players throughout the season.
Bad offenses to break out?
If you look at this week’s schedule, Week 4 could be the time when skill players on the NFL’s struggling offenses get a chance to put up some points. Miami plays Houston, which seemed to be the cure for the Redskins and Mark Brunell last week. Ronnie Brown, Chris Chambers and Randy McMichael may actually produce what is expected from them. The San Francisco/Kansas City contest could mean mucho points for not only Frank Gore (if he plays), Antonio Bryant and comeback kid Eric Johnson (replacing Vernon Davis), but also Larry Johnson and Tony Gonzalez. Mike Martz returns to St. Louis with Detroit. Which trifecta will be superior: Bulger/Jackson/Holt or Kitna/K. Jones/R. Williams? And last as well as least, Lamont Jordan and Randy Moss owners may finally get to rejoice as the Raiders play Cleveland. Then again, could Charlie Frye and Kellen Winslow have better games instead?
Mr. Random update
My man Greg Jennings added another three catches for 101 yards last week, including a 75-yard touchdown. The Pack will be behind in most games, and the rookie seems to be Favre’s second option to Donald Driver. However, joining Jennings and Colston in the competition this week is Maurice Jones-Drew. Wasn’t he just Maurice Drew at UCLA? Whatever his name is, he exploded onto the scene, spelling Fragile Fred Taylor to the tune of 13 carries for 103 yards and four receptions for 32 yards. Does this mean the end for Fragile Fred? Not likely, as Taylor still got his 20 carries. Remember that the Colts defense is porous against the run, and Brandon Jacobs put up similar numbers behind Tiki Barber in Week 1.