I’m sitting in a bar in Manhattan on Sunday watching the 1:00 games. As my head swiveled from game to game across the establishment, I see the following: McNabb throwing two picks for Ronde Barber TDs before the comeback begins with Westbrook’s 52-yard reception; Leon Washington running over Detroit; Roethlisberger getting destroyed, then Hines Ward breaking the big one; Vick to Crumpler; and Jacksonville not showing up against Houston and Wali Lundy, which ruined my suicide pool and has me joining the “never bet Byron Leftwich on the road” crowd. Everywhere I turned something with a huge impact on fantasy football was happening. Then Matt Bryant—a former pawn broker who owes his career to Jim Fassel and then could never hit a clutch field goal for the man—nailed a 62-yard field goal (with room to spare) to beat the Eagles. At that point, my head exploded and I looked for a stool on which to plop myself down.
But that’s the NFL this year. You can’t consistently pick winners, nor can you select the right fantasy studs for each week. So while I sat there at Copper Smith’s pondering how I was going to fit all of these great storylines into a single column, I finally decided to just wing it. No real format, just off-the-cuff type of stuff. So let’s give it a shot and see how it goes. These are my fantasy thoughts while watching some of the following games:
JAX vs. HOU: Are you f$%^ing kidding me, Jacksonville? Perhaps Leftwich should have sat this one out. What a stinker. After the heroics of a couple of weeks ago, Fragile Fred pulled a double fantasy whammy—not only did he fumble, he got his TD poached by Maurice Jones-Drew. Jacksonville’s like the bizarro Giants; their version of Brandon Jacobs (Greg Jones) got hurt, so now they went the completely opposite way and chose a friggin midget to score touchdowns. No wonder they’re 3-3. On the other hand, the Texans offense looks like we thought it would last year, with Wali Lundy hopefully ready to assume the Dom Davis role and Carr-to-Andre Johnson emerging as a potent force. They look like this year’s Volek-to-Bennett. Of course this all occurred a year too late for most of us.
CAR vs. CIN: If you’re Steve Smith, do you see Delhomme throw that last INT and immediately begin plotting to beat him down in the next offensive meeting? People forget that this guy is as crazy as T.O. But he is the studliest of wide receivers despite missing the first two games. However, what does it say for Carolina’s D if Rudi Johnson ran for 100 yards with that patchwork offensive line? Hey, Chad Johnson made a play! I’m sure the guy that took him for $20 in our auction league is thrilled. Everybody forgets how many games Housh missed last year, but he’s a high production guy. Do you think Palmer had the sweats after seeing the hit on Hasslebeck? The offensive line and the schedule make it tough to expect any more out of Cincy than you’re getting right now.
PIT vs. ATL: BIG game, and it was played like one. Something to note: Big Ben may have a Super Bowl ring, but when Batch has played the Steelers offense has looked sprightly, hasn’t it? Hines Ward is consistently underrated, and that 70-yard TD was a thing of beauty. Does this increase the value of Nate Washington and Santonio Holmes? And do they all have to celebrate after every decent catch? Hate to say anything about Pittsburgh’s defense, but the Giants held Atlanta to 14 points last week. To defend Michael Vick, it does seem to help when the receivers can hold onto the freaking ball (Michael Jenkins, I’m looking at you). Warrick Dunn’s another one of those underrated guys who’s a #1.5 running back rather than a #2. Steady production each season. Alge Crumpler finally got going, let’s see if it’s more than a one-week thing.
N.E. vs. BUF: A game so ugly (in true Patriot style) that it really doesn’t deserve the ink space. Corey Dillon gets the TDs instead of Maroney this time—and so does Doug Gabriel! I just picked him up off waivers! Does he break out as the top WR or is it Chad Jackson? Any one of the Pats’ receiving options is a wing and a prayer, even Watson. Ugh, Buffalo. Thank God I didn’t take McGahee or Lee Evans. Other than those two guys, the Bills have no offensive talent, none. Put McGahee on Indy right now and he’s in the top 5 of running backs, fantasy-wise or not. Don’t argue.
DET vs. NYJ: The two girls at the corner table are much more interesting than this “NFL” game. Quick synopsis: Leon Washington, Kitna, Furrey, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. This game should have been called the Battle of Waiver Wire All-Stars.
PHI vs. TBB: Wow, look at McChoke crap the bed! What do you mean he threw 5 TDs?! You know the second part to that joke, so let’s move on. McNabb’s numbers will still be stellar at the end of the year. L.J. Smith is showing signs of slowing down. Before Sunday, he was the #1 TE in fantasy football. Has a player ever changed the fortunes of fantasy teams around the world more than Brian Westbrook? Whether he plays determines whether a lineup is unbeatable or pedestrian. He should suit up in that suit from Batman Begins. How did Tampa win this game, anyway? Nothing offensively for sure, unless you count Cadillac and his 82 yards rushing. But you better believe they have a chance against the giants in what is known by G-men fans as a “Fassel Game”—losing at home to a crappy opponent. Don’t you people remember the Giants/Minnesota game last year?
SD vs. KC: As curse words volley through my brain, Ladainian Tomlinson sprints to the end zone for a TD. I am playing LT2 this week; thank you, Chiefs DST. There’s a reason he’s the top back in fantasy—he threw a TD pass, too! But his fun was eclipsed by Larry Johnson and Tony Gonzalez. Tony hasn’t had this much fun since I saw him in Cancun in 1995 circled by hot chicks. Is this going to be a home/road thing with KC, where Huard/LJ suck on the road, but are world-beaters at Arrowhead? The other quarterback, Philip Rivers, played another decent game, good enough for a QB2. Has anyone seen Keenan McCardell?
MIA vs. GB: HOW DO YOU THROW FOR 414 YARDS AND NOT COMPLETE MORE THAN TWO PASSES TO CHRIS CHAMBERS?! Joey Harrington, hero of the mediocre wideout, with his sidekick, offensive coordinator Mike “I set Buffalo back a decade” Mularkey. Is Harrington a good option going forward? Only if he’s going to throw 62 times every game. 62! Were they trying to break Maris’ old record? Ronnie Brown: 15 carries for 59 yards. I’m sure the guys who spent $27 on him are really thrilled. Hey, that’s Ahman Green! Good comeback game for Ahman, and maybe he vaults into your RB2 slot, especially on days against weak opponents like the Lions. Donald Driver returns and makes an amazing catch for a TD, but they lose My Man Greg Jennings to a sprained ankle. Most people in the bar asked Brett Favre to just go away.
DEN vs. CLE: Ugly, ugly football game. Honestly, the only players worth starting on any of these teams are Tatum Bell and the Broncos DST. Even Elam is crap this season. I guess Plummer is like Samson with that beard—he shaved, his strength left him. You’re killing Rod Smith, Jake! Frye, Winslow and Edwards are serviceable for Cleveland with good matchups. Tired of going back and forth from TV to TV by this point.
IND vs. WAS: But here’s good times! Peyton Manning getting his face bashed in and then proceeding to put a second-half ass-kicking on the Skins! Seriously, if you have Redskins players on your team, time to sell what you can. One good game for Santana Moss in seven. Clinton Portis is hurt again with a high ankle sprain, which means he may not be back after the bye week. Cooley has improved, but nowhere near last year. Will Brunell make it through the season, or is Jason Campbell ready to go? Indy is business as usual with Peyton throwing four TDs, two to Marvin Harrison and one to a resurgent Reggie Wayne. Addai is grabbing more of the carries and yards. Well, we’ll see what they got against Denver in Mile High.
SEA vs. MIN: Down goes Hasslebeck, and just when they got Jerramy Stevens back. How long he will be out affects everyone, even Shaun Alexander, who’s looking at a return in two weeks (which is good because Maurice Morris stinks). Can Seneca Wallace lead the team? Look at Chester Taylor, a guy I predicted will blow up in the Auction Nuthouse series. Ninety-five yard TD. Seattle had kept him pretty boxed in before that. The Vikings have some momentum, if they can get one WR going (this week it was Marcus Robinson), that team will be very dangerous. And for most leagues, the Viking receiver that does get hot will be available on the waiver wire.
ARI vs. OAK: No Kurt Warner, no Larry Fitzgerald. Lamont Jordan out, and Aaron Brooks nowhere to be found. This game is like the graveyard for fantasy players. And look, there’s the living dead, Edgerrin James! Randy Moss finally did something. Sorry, this game was just as bad as it gets—even alcohol couldn’t make it better.
NYG vs. DAL: We all know what happened here. But the interesting storylines started to happen once Romo got into the game. Did he ever throw to Terry Glenn? He sure looked T.O.’s way first every time; Glenn owners best be wary. Was this a breakout game for Jason Witten, or did he benefit from the Giants deep zone in the fourth? Does T.O.’s stock go up even further? What happened to Julius Jones, and will this carry over when they play Carolina? As for the Giants, they keep on trucking, everybody doing his part. Manning will throw for a couple of scores, along with an INT or two. Tiki will run for over 100 yards, get a bunch of receiving yards, but will have his TDs stolen by Brandon Jacobs. Shockey seems to be rounding into form the last few weeks, and Plax has got four TDs in six games. We’ll see if they have another Fassel Game this week against Tampa.
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