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The Skeptic Tank: Weeks 8/9

Welcome to the Week 8 edition of the Skeptic Tank. Join me as I take a look back at Sunday’s games and review the fantasy implications of some of the more interesting performances. It’s also never too early to start thinking about your waiver wire pickups for Week 9.

Please, Jerry Jones, please, fire Wade Phillips.  The Cowboys are the most pathetic team in the NFL.  Turn the reins over to Jason Garrett, it won’t cost you any additional money, and let’s finally see what all the hype was about.

Dallas is 30th in the NFL with 516 rushing yards for an average of 3.9 yards per carry.  Who would have thought that after seven games the Cowboys would have one rushing touchdown?

We don’t know the extent of Redskins’ running back Ryan Torain‘s hamstring injury, but make sure to put a waiver claim in for Keiland Williams.  In fact, you may also want to keep an eye on former Browns’ running back James Davis.  As we saw today with Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan’s pulling of quarterback Donovan McNabb late in the game in favor of Rex Grossman, anything can happen in D.C.

Those in keeper/dynasty leagues may want to make a lowball offer for McNabb as his value can’t get much lower. With McNabb a free agent after this season he’ll make for a nice replacement to Brett Favre up in Minnesota.  Even if Randy Moss talks his way out of the twin cities, with a healthy Sidney Rice back in the lineup there’s no reason that McNabb can’t have a career year in 2011, just just as Favre did back in 2009.

If you’re looking for a wide receiver who has a chance to make a difference during the second half of the season, checkout Packers’ wide out Jordy Nelson.  His seven targets were second behind Greg Jennings‘ 12 on Sunday. 

Meanwhile, James Jones(5) and Donald Driver(3) did not have a catch despite eight combined targets.

I look for 49ers’ quarterback Troy Smith to continue to start as long as the 49ers win and Smith protects the ball.  Back in the preseason of 2008 it looked as if Smith was about to win the starting quarterback job with the Ravens when he became ill with a rare case of tonsillitis opening the door for then rookie Joe Flacco to seize the job. 

Smith wasn’t spectacular on Sunday versus the Broncos throwing for 196 yards and one touchdown while rushing for another, but he would have made for a nice bye-week fill-in had you used him.  Assuming that Frank Gore is healthy, more on that below, and the emergence of wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Smith has a chance to stake his claim as the starter.

With Frank Gore not listed on the 49ers’ postgame injury report, I’m going to assume that the 49ers held true to their promise to lighten Gore’s load as they had rookie Anthony Dixon tote the rock on three consecutive plays late in the fourth quarter.  Dixon was able to pick up nine total yards on those three carries and the 49ers had to punt the ball back to Denver.  With the 49ers only up 24-16 at the time it appears that head coach Mike Singletary is trying to see how many stupid things he can do before he gets fired.

Is Chargers’ head coach Norv Turner smarter than Cowboys’ head coach Wade Phillips?  Hmm…you decide.  After week seven’s 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, coach Norv Turner had this to say about why rookie running back Ryan Mathews sat out the entire second half, “Please, Darren has been playing that position for four years, and he knows exactly what he’s doing in protection. He knows exactly what he’s doing with the route. Obviously, when we get into those situations, it takes away the chances to use (Mathews) as a player.”  So, Norv felt that it may endanger his franchise quarterback if he allowed his rookie running back to try to pass protect for his franchise quarterback.  That seems to make sense, don’t you think so, Wade?

Chargers’ running back Mike Tolbert has scored a touchdown in five straight games and makes for a very nice flex play.

The Charlie Whitehurst era in Seattle is fast approaching.  With Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll’s comments in early October about increasing backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst‘s reps with the first-team and starting QB Matt Hasselbeck‘s lackluster performance of 13-for-32 for 160 yards and one interception on Sunday, can a change at QB be far behind?

The three most important things about real estate are location, location and location.  The same could be said about playing wide receiver in the NFL.  Randy Moss had one catch for eight yards.  Brandon Tate had three catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.  And Moss thought that he was unhappy in New England.  Hey, Randy, does this remind you of that last time you were in Minnesota and you forced your way into the arms of Al Davis?

Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson has yet to fumble the ball through seven games and is on pace for 50 recpetions.  It looks like he’s answered those critics.

After rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns, do I really need to tell you that Tampa Bay running back LeGarrette Blount is a must pickup this week?  Of course, that info would have been more helpful last week.  Of course, had you read last week’s edition of the Skeptic Tank you would have had that info.

Thanks for reading and have a great week.

Jim Bukowski is a staff writer for and can be reached at

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