We knew who Jake Delhomme was going to throw the football to, and the best defense in the NFL had to know who Delhomme was going to throw to…. So why is it that Steve Smith was able to hang 169 on the Bears when no other Panther had over 20 yards receiving? Statistically the Bears are far and away the best defense out there, so why couldn’t they blanket this guy and make someone else beat them? The answer lies with the Carolina Panther’s system.
Last year Muhsin Muhammad was the #1 fantasy Rec. despite not even being drafted in most leagues. With Steve Smith out with a leg injury, the Panthers ran their offense around Muhammad. Down the stretch he was nearly unstoppable amassing 1403 yards and 16 tds’, as most of Delhomme’s passes went his way. The Panthers designed plays and routes that would get him open despite whatever double coverage he was facing. One year later, exit Muhsin Muhammad, enter Steve Smith. Before the season there were questions about how Smith would come back from the injury and since he is more of a speed Rec. than the physical Muhammad, people also wondered if he would be able to have a similar impact on the offense. After 10 games Smith is on pace for 1770 yards and about 14 td’s, so the questions have been answered. Delhomme has had a scary chemistry with Muhammad and Smith, and the Panther’s coaching staff is fully dedicated to getting their #1 Rec. the ball. In the middle of the game against Chicago on Sunday, I checked the box score and saw that Delhomme had thrown for just over 100 yards and that Smith had over 90 yards receiving! If the Bears can’t stop this combo, don’t expect anyone else to. In the Panther’s system Steve Smith will be able to dominate his position for the foreseeable future.
With only a few weeks left in the fantasy football regular season, the obvious is out in the open. You don’t need me to tell you to cut Jamal Lewis or to stay away from the Jets players. I’ve decided to dig a bit deeper this week into the not-so-obvious and give you some much needed player analysis.
Kurt Warner- For good reason Warner came into the season as a barely draftable fumble waiting to happen. He still hasn’t proved that he could be a viable starting QB in the NFL anymore; but on a team with no running game, two stud receivers, and the gift of an NFC West schedule, Warner can still have an impact in fantasy. In his last three games, Warner has averaged 326 yards per game and has thrown for 5 td’s over that time. In the next 4 weeks, the Cardinals play home against Jacksonville, at San Fran, home against Washington, and at Houston.
Bottom Line- Consider Warner a decent start in the home games and an absolute must start against San Fran and Houston.
Drew Bledsoe- From a fantasy perspective, Drew’s season has reminded me a lot of the first one he had with Buffalo. In that season, Bledsoe was the #1 fantasy quarterback through the first half of the season earning him a “Must Start” tag which buried many owners as he crashed back to reality down the stretch and was horrible in the fantasy playoffs. Through 5 games this season, Bledsoe was again the #1 fantasy Qb. Predictably, in his next 5 games Bledsoe has less than half of the points he had in the first 5. Dallas’s defense and running game will carry them deep into the playoffs, but if you start Bledsoe, you might have an early exit in yours.
Bottom Line- Bench him indefinitely.
Sam Gado, Reuben Droughns, Mike Anderson, Chris Brown, and Larry Johnson were all #3 Rb’s at best a month ago. Now, each of them is a solid start and they could all have a huge impact in your leagues. Of course while these 5 have risen to prominence, there are many Rb’s taking a plunge in the rankings. You can’t start a Rb on Arizona, Baltimore, Detroit, Miami, Minnesota, the Jets, New Orleans, New England, or San Francisco. Dallas and Carolina both have difficult schedules and full blown committees, so unless things clear out a bit, it might be hard to start the Rb’s from those teams as well. I can’t recommend Willie Parker or Cadillac Williams until we see another good game from them and Fred Taylor just pulled a Corey Dillon by leaving after only a few plays and giving his owners a donut.
Steven Jackson- His stat line on Sunday was abysmal. He carried the ball 12 times for 6 yards, caught three passes for 16 yards, and lost a fumble. In most scoring formats he actually gave you -1 (At least Fred Taylor didn’t give you a negative). I’ve said it all season and I’ll say it again: If Bulger isn’t in the starting line up, SJ is a top 5 fantasy Rb. But, with Bulger at the helm, the Rams don’t commit to the run game enough, Steven Jackson’s #’s suffer and the Rams loose. Bulger went down again on Sunday, and now this situation is a mess.
Bottom Line- No matter what happens to Bulger, you’ll probably have to start Steven Jackson either way. You just can’t count on him as anything better than a #2 Rb when Bulger is playing.
Willis Mcgahee- He has less Td’s than Marion Barber, Mike Alstott, T.J. Duckett, Brandon Jacobs, Tatum Bell, and Curtis Martin. He’s also only rushed for 105 yards in his last two games, so his yardage has suffered too. Mcgahee is now outside of the top 12 in total fantasy points at his position and he doesn’t have a favorable schedule down the stretch. The Qb fiasco in Buffalo is finally taking a toll on Mcgahee’s #’s and it doesn’t seem like its going to get much better any time soon.
Bottom Line- Willis is now headed into first round bust territory. He is no longer a must start each week, but should still get good enough yardage totals to be an adequate #2 Rb in fantasy.
The top tier of fantasy receivers had mixed reviews on Sunday. Joey Galloway, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, and Santana Moss all had a tough day, but Chad Johnson, Steve Smith, Larry Fitzgerald, and Torry Holt all had monster games. I think yesterday was indicative of how things will shake out in this tier over the rest of the season. Smith, Fitz, Holt and Chad J. are my top 4 Rec.’s in that order.
Jag’s Receivers- There is little doubt that Byron Leftwich will be huge for the rest of the season as the Jags have the easiest remaining schedule in the league. There are questions about which Rec. will benefit the most from Leftwich’s production spike. Ernest Wilford and Matt Jones are both over 6’4 and weigh over 220 pounds. They both have good hands and deceptive speed and both of them have been scoring touchdowns as of late. Of course Jimmy Smith has been the king of the Jaguars wide outs for a decade and just topped this trio with 89 yards on Sunday. Each of these guys has value and could be a decent #2 or #3 Wr, but as long as Leftwich is spreading the ball around, neither of them is a great play.
Bottom Line- Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks to see who Leftwich will rely on the most during the fantasy playoffs.
Terry Glenn- As Bledsoe’s #’s have declined, so too have Glenns’. If it weren’t for the late touchdown against the Eagles, Glenn would be in the midst of a horrendous 5 game stretch. He hasn’t went over 65 yards during that time and with two quality Rb’s getting 15+ touches a game each and Parcells loosing trust in Bledsoe each week, Glenn is not a recommended option right now.
Bottom Line- Glenn could be decent when the Cowboys play Kansas City at home in week 14, but he’s no better than a #3 option when they play home against Denver, at Washington and at Carolina in the upcoming weeks.