I wasn’t going to write a column this week. In fact, I shouldn’t be authoring anything at all at this particular time. Fantasy Sharks is a family Web site, and right now my mood and choice of language definitely do not fit this mold. It’s bad enough to lose due to poor managerial skills; but here’s an example of what you may have heard at around 7:30 p.m. Monday night (made family-friendly so Tony and Rob’s heads don’t explode):
“[Expletive] [Expletive] Andy Reid, that [expletive-filled phrase pointing out that the Philadelphia Eagles head coach has a weight problem]. I can’t believe Brian Westbrook is a [expletive-filled phrase asserting that the Eagles running back is somehow less than a man for not playing]. [More expletive-laced dialogue denoting that Reid and Westbrook should commit biologically impossible acts, as well as denoting that both will not be headed to heaven upon their ultimate demises.]”
Whew, now I feel better—for about the next 30 seconds—how about the rest of you Westbrook owners? On the bright side, I don’t own Daunte Culpepper. But honestly, what else can happen to fantasy footballers this year? Has there been a year where so many first- through third-round draft picks have just disintegrated? Alexander out, Cadillac stuck in neutral, Miami’s struggles killing Ronnie Brown and Chris Chambers, Lamont Jordan and Randy Moss nonexistent until last week, Tiki Barber’s semi-meager numbers after three games, the list goes on. And my favorite fall ritual—the annual Fragile Fred injury—hasn’t even occurred yet! But it’s still only Week 5, and there are lots more games to be played, and storylines to be played out.
Let’s quickly recap last week:
· The emotionally distraught Terrell Owens returned to the Cowboys lineup in the rout of Tennessee, but the main event awaits: his return to Philadelphia. It comes at a good time for Dallas—they’ve begun to establish a running game and the Eagles are down some corners. With the spotlight shining, you know T.O. will be up for this. But watch Terry Glenn put up numbers that are just as good and probably better.
· Did Shaun Alexander’s injury affect Seattle’s performance against the Bears? I think it was more the way Matt Hasslebeck played. Keep an eye on the Seattle QB. He seems to be throwing interceptions more than usual, many of the backbreaking variety. Quick reminder: Jerramy Stevens should be back in the next few weeks. He will be a quality pickup off the waiver wire.
· The most important numbers for Steve Smith: Two games played, two wins for Carolina. This why I argued against Shaun Alexander being given the MVP last year—Smith is MUCH more valuable to his team. Even DeShaun Foster produced in last week’s victory over the Saints, and I had started to shovel the dirt on his grave. As I said last week, Smith opens things up for everybody.
· Speaking of the Saints, still waiting for a breakout game from somebody other than Mr. Random™ nominee Marques Colston.
· Some bad offenses did happen to break out this week. Kansas City went bonkers on San Francisco; Detroit and St. Louis had a scoring bonanza; and even the Raiders got in the act. Meanwhile, Miami continued to be dreadful.
Moving on to the storylines that will push you to knock off an opponent’s helmet and stomp on his face repeatedly:
McNabb plays do-it-yourself
Brian Westbrook’s absence (that no-good [expletive] [expletive] [expletive]) was a boon for Donovan McNabb owners as he accounted for four TDs, two long passes to Greg Lewis and two runs. If Westbrook continues to be held out, you’ll see McNabb throw and run more, basically because Correll Buckhalter can’t hold on to the ball in the red zone. Again, a little self-promotion of the Auction Nuthouse series, which had McNabb as the QB steal of the draft. The T.O. circus comes to town this week. McNabb will need Westbrook, as the Dallas defense is a little bit better than Green Bay’s (understatement), but the sky is the limit for McNabb owners for the rest of the year.
Hail to the Redskins
Here they come, bolstered by two weeks of tremendous offensive production. Santana Moss has led the resurgence and, with all respect to Clinton Portis, is THE guy for Washington. I mean, he shredded the big time Jacksonville defense. Like Steve Smith, Moss provides that big-play threat that opens up the game for the rest of the offense, including Portis and Cooley. Remember that last season his touchdowns came in bunches, and this week they take on the Giants, who appear to be missing a secondary. I think I’d start him. Which brings us to….
Do or die for the Giants?
In the NFL, the fourth game of the season should not make or break a team’s season. But because the New York media smells Tom Coughlin’s blood in the water, they are ready to declare the team finished if they lose this game. Hence it has become a very important game to the fans, and thus the players. The Redskins stopped Jacksonville’s running attack last week, but Byron Leftwich passed for a huge amount. I see the same thing happening this week for the Giants and Eli Manning—and every week for the G-men until the defense stops somebody. Tiki will have some good all-purpose yardage, and look to the Burress/Toomer/Shockey triumvirate to post decent numbers. Fantasy footballers should watch this game with care. If the Giants lose, does the team implode?
The meek will rise again?
Putrid offenses like Kansas City, Oakland, Cleveland, St. Louis and Detroit had their day in the sun last week, much to the glee of anyone who owned Larry Johnson, Jordan/Moss, Roy Williams, Torry Holt, etc. And don’t look now, but the hits may keep on coming this week. Minnesota, which has flopped around on offense like a newly caught fish for two weeks now, has a chance to get well against Detroit. St. Louis and Green Bay (even without Donald Driver) could have a final score of 38-35. That Jim Haslett keeps blitzing because he doesn’t have the corners, yet the corners keep getting beat. It’s a vicious circle. San Francisco emerges from behind KC’s woodshed to take on Oakland, which means there could be another week of good play from Randy “They can trade me if they want” Moss and Lamont “I hung out with Nick Pavlou at Maryland” Jordan. Lastly, Damon Huard and Kansas City go for two in a row at Arizona, where………
The Matt Leinart era begins
His resume is immaculate: National champion, Heisman Trophy winner, first-round draft pick, friend/roommate of Nick Lachey, centerpiece of drunken photo montages e-mailed throughout the world, and impregnator of hot women’s college basketball players. But will he prove to be a decent NFL starting QB, as well as a viable fantasy QB? We won’t know until later this season, but here are three quick points to remember:
1) With that offensive line, Leinart will be even able to make it through the season? Maybe instead of drafting three WRs and a QB over the last few years, Denny Green might’ve thought of looking into a tackle. Or a guard. Or a center.
2) If you’re wondering how this affects Edgerrin James, there is a bright light in your dark, Edge-owning world. Rookie quarterbacks are often protected by a run-dominated play selection. Which means more carries for James. But can Denny Green keep the reins tight, especially with the talent at the WR spot?
3) The biggest question of all and one that is a popular topic in the Shark Tank: What does this do to the value of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin? Common sense says there’ll be a drop-off because it’s a rookie QB. But could he be any worse than Kurt Warner, who was giving away three possessions a game with fumbles and interceptions? I don’t know.
Mr. Random update
This week’s nominee is someone we should have listed weeks ago, Detroit WR Mike Furrey. What is it with Mike Martz and white WRs? Ricky Proehl, Kevin Curtis and now Furrey. Feeding off of the double coverage on Roy Williams, he has 22 receptions for 242 yards and 2 touchdowns—better numbers than Chad Johnson, Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith and Terrell Owens (although bye weeks and injuries have played a factor). Furrey is a great pickup if you lack wide receiver depth, but I would think hard about starting him this week against Minnesota’s corners of Winfield and Smoot.
By the way, Donald Driver is hurt—looks like Greg Jennings is the No.1 WR in Green Bay this week.
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