You’ll be glad to hear I won’t be spewing any sentimental crap to begin this week’s column, but I do have some FF stuff to talk about. Let me preface by saying I have played fantasy for six years, and have three titles and one second place finish so I have seen a few things. This week, a bud of mine called me and told me something that I simply couldn’t believe.
My friend gets offered a trade to receive LT and Bobby Engram, and he would give up Jamal Lewis, Joe Horn and Roy Williams. Not a bad trade for my friend, and with Portis already on board, he is stacked at RB. The following week, he offers to trade (to a guy whose top running back is Eddie George but is amazingly 2-0) Fred Taylor and Marcus Pollard for Hines Ward. The guy accepts because Hines was on his bench (not sure why, but go with me on this one). Now my friend has Chad Johnson and Hines Ward at WR as well, he has worked to make a championship team at the sacrifice of depth if any injuries occur. Where the drama comes in is someone in the league throws in their two cents saying that it is unfair and he will not play anymore if this is going to go on in the league. He also said my friend was taking advantage of an inexperienced player. The commissioner then vetoed the trade. Also, there is an unconfirmed rumor that the commissioner made an offer for Ward himself, and was turned down, then vetoed the trade between two other players. This makes it appear the commissioner was acting on personal gain when he denied the trade.
Not being part of the aforementioned league, I think I can render an unbiased opinion. First, when exactly was this game supposed to be equal and fair to everyone every week? If so, people that drafted in Ricky Williams or David Boston in July would have been able to completely redraft. When a stud of yours went down, you would automatically be able to pickup their backup before anyone else did. You would be able to switch lineups to make the best available team during the game, whether they are on the bench or not. Oh yeah, you can’t do that, so too damn bad.
And when exactly did trying to take advantage of someone become against the rules? Now, I can understand if it was a trade involving Ward and Williams straight up citing that Ricky will be back and he’s worth it, because that’s downright scandalous. Every article I have ever read about fantasy football teaches you to spot the sucker before you become the sucker, and exploit the weakness. I guarantee if the whiney little baby that complained was on the receiving end of this, he would be defending his actions all the way to the championship game. So my advice to that guy is if you want to be that way, go join a coachbox or yahoo league. Those may be a bit tough for you yet, but I doubt you’ll find one that people will just hand you their money. When you are ready to be a man, you can find a league that will take you, and your money.
Now that my rant is over, on to football…
Now that we are on the topic of babies, cry me a river Larry Johnson. Boo hoo, coachie made a comment about me being in diapers, boo freakin hoo. Only you and Dick Vermeil know if there was any reason for him to say that, but knowing Vermeil he had a good reason. Regardless, grow some thicker skin, get over it and tote the rock like you did in Happy Valley. Chalk up another bust running back from Penn State. If you don’t want to be a man and be thankful for the opportunity to even be playing in the NFL, then do a Ricky and get it over with. I’m sure there are about 30 players from 32 teams that would kill to get your roster spot. Here’s an idea. Why don’t you go to Dick Vermeil and ask to return some punts or kickoffs, or find out what you can do to make the team better. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s called humility. You’d better get used to it.
Danger Gunther Cunningham, Danger. Warning to all Chiefs fans, the big red machine is going down in flames. There are so many problems with this team it is hard to find a place to start. I truly believe the problems began last year, and were solidified last week against an average team in Dom Capers’ Texans. Last year, they averaged 30.25 pts per game while giving up only 20.75 pts, with a plus 16 turnover ratio.
Looking simply at that, you have to wonder what the problem is. However, there is a problem, so let’s look at the last ten regular season games including the Bengals game that broke the 9 game winning streak. The last six games they still scored 26 per contest but allowed almost 27 pts giving up 45 points twice. Their turnover ratio was only +3 over that time. Before this point, the special teams (namely Dante Hall) had scored four times, and created numerous field position opportunities for the offense. Since then, nothing even close to a touchdown in ten games.
To me, the problems are three fold. First on defense, that’s the easy one. No one could tackle or play their assignments last year, they still can’t. From what I hear, the tackling dummies at the practice facility are 2-1 against the Chiefs, losing a shootout 35-34. Second, their wide receiving core is abysmal, and teams are game planning against Priest and TG. Lastly, the special teams have been anything but. They counted on special teams since the defense was a formality and they simply aren’t creating anything for the offense. Look out, because the team that started 9-0 last year could be 0-7 to start this year. The next opponents are the Ravens, Jags, Falcons and Colts. They might as well make January vacation plans now. One question, why exactly did they not go after Mccardell in the off-season? He may be complaining in TB, but he could be happy in KC and a threatening WR could change their fate. Sheesh.
Showdown at the RCA Corral
The game of the week from many perspectives was in the RCA dome. This game was a pure shootout, with 35 points coming in the game’s first twelve minutes. I swear there were CBs on the field; I’m just not sure who they were. Nine touchdowns, 753 yards and no picks between the two gunslingers. Why oh why did I not draft Brett Favre? One question though for Mike Sherman: How does Brandon Stokely get that wide open down the middle of the field? Even I could have made that throw for the touchdown (I’m reaching a bit here but stay with me). If you look up the word inexorable in the dictionary, I think you’ll see Peyton Manning’s picture. Wow, he looks sharp. I think if the road to the Super Bowl goes through Indianapolis, the AFC is in deep trouble. What a week one rematch that would be in the championship game come January.
Let me say again how my heart goes out to the people of Florida. I have no idea what you must be going through, after four major hurricanes but I have a small gripe. I heard in the media that some people are complaining about the game in Miami, and people should not be playing football nor going to the game after such tragedy, and was disrespectful. I apologize for my ignorance but I fail to see what is disrespectful. If anything I would think they would be happy about people traveling to Miami from other cities dumping money into the local and state economy. Oh yeah, and the NFL dropped a million dollar check for hurricane relief. It may be a drop in the bucket, but I imagine you will see many NFL players helping out to get people’s lives back together with time and money. I think those who complained, however few their numbers, you are misdirecting their anger a bit.
Miami Flounders (I mean Dolphins)
While we’re on the subject, they did play a game in Miami on Sunday night. I don’t think many people were able to see it unless you had Sunday Ticket. It was a waterlogged defensive battle, and played very similar to how it would have if it were sunny and 75. Miami looked dismal on offense, and played solid defense, until the end. They allowed 163 yards rushing against the Steelers, 101 of those to Staley whose uniform looked like he played for the Browns after the night was over. The dreaded infield at Pro Player stadium turned this game into a mud-wrestling match. Feeley was on fire, or at least Dolphins fans wished he was. AJ completed his first four passes; too bad two of them were to the wrong color jersey. The Dolphins turned the ball over on their first three possessions. The first interception should have been credited to Chambers, as he gave up on his fly pattern and let Taylor go up and get the ball with no fight at all. I heard a rumor that Wannstedt is considering changing the team name to the Hurricanes, just so he can get a team on the schedule he can beat. In their defense, they are on their fourth string tailback, as the recently acquired Lamar Gordon got drilled be Chris Hope and did not return due to a shoulder injury. By the way, nice job in the off-season getting Philly’s third string quarterback over Kerry Collins or trading for Larry “Huggies” Johnson. Good scouting there.
On the other side, Big Ben looked poised and in control, dipping and weaving out of pressure, making only one errant throw early in the game. He is well on his way to proving the Giants and Chargers should not have passed on him in the draft. He is deceptively fast and showed he is hard to bring down, only being sacked once. He threw a laser to Ward in the end zone, where only Ward could get to it. Steelers fans may have seen the last down played by Maddox as a starting quarterback in Baltimore a week ago.
A Jaguar by Any Other Name…
Last week we talked about the Jags and whether or not they are for real or not. The question has been answered with a resounding exclamation point. They look similar to the 2000 Ravens. Now before everyone freaks out about that, let me qualify the statement. They do not have Ray Lewis or any great playmakers on defense. However, the defense has some role players, and more importantly they are playing team defense very well. Most significantly, the offense is not losing games for them; they take the opportunities given by the D and play a good field position battle if nothing else. In 2000 Baltimore stifled teams with their defense, while Dilfer and the offense played well enough not to lose games. The Jags did allow a 100 yd rusher for the first time in 17 games, but they bottled up Mcnair and his WRs and knocked the co-MVP from the game. We’ll see if they live up to this comparison when they play what seems to be an unstoppable offense in Indy, at Alltel next week.
My condolences to Lovie Smith in Chicago. Rex Grossman ruptured an ACL, which will end his season, along with the Bears. It’s a shame, too because he had the team believing in his system, going into Lambeau and beating Brett Favre in Week 2. After losing Mike Brown for the season last week, pull the fork from the drawer because his team is done. They will stay competitive in some games, but teams will stack the box to stop Jones and I doubt that Jonathan Quinn, the career backup, will be able to string together enough to win in the tough NFC north. There’s always next year…
Just Plain Lousy Game of the Week:
Arizona at Atlanta: This should have been a complete rout, but the Cards did a nice job of keeping Vick in front of them and forcing him to beat them with his arm. Denny Green and his crew were just a couple of big plays short of winning this game. The Birds put together a nice drive from their own 26 late in the third, when McCown coughed it up. Give credit the Atlanta D for keeping them from putting any drives together all day, and forcing a fumble when they needed it. Vick got picked in the fourth deep in their territory, and all the Cards could muster was a field goal. From a fantasy and fan perspective though, it was pretty unbearable to watch. Green is in for a long season in the sun.
Early in the season, here are the coaches I see that should make plans for the unemployment line: Erickson, Wannstedt, Capers. The Texans haven’t won back to back games since, ohh let me see, since they became the Texans. Wannstedt, see above. Erickson, no TO, no Garcia, no talent, no chemistry. This is the guy who replaced Mariucci? Ouch.
If he is still available, you might want to look at Brandon Stokely. Looks like he is developing nicely as a 3WR in Indy, and he could be yours as well.
No update on Deion this week, as his hamstring kept him sidelined. Too bad.
Kurt Warner and Mark Brunell are both improving, as it seems they are becoming more comfortable in new offensive schemes. Look for some surprises from those two.
Injuries – Garner tore his patella tendon and Gannon broke his neck in Oakland on Sunday. In TB, the load will fall on Jamel White, making a dismal offense even worse. Gannon is listed out six weeks, but I don’t see a 39 year old with a broken vertebra recovering in a short time.
Thanks for listening, on to next week…