Saturday, September 26, 2009

Week 3 Fantasy Forecast

Time for some Week 3 Fantasy outlooks. Let's see how the match ups look this week.

Like a Boss

Drew Brees
Have you seen the numbers this guy is putting up this year? He ripped up a very good Eagles defense last week, and should do something similarly destructive against the Bills. Until he gives you a reason not to, you start Drew Brees. 300 yards, 4 touchdowns sound reasonable?

Baltimore Ravens Defense
Much like Drew Brees, this group should be played any time you have the choice. Now they get to set their crosshairs on a very poor Browns offense, which may be without Jamal Lewis. Ripe for the pickin'!

Brandon Jacobs
I gotta give some love to the big man, who has gotten off to a slow start this year. The Bucs defense doesn't know what they're trying to be, so look for this to be the week the Giants get the running game on track. 120 yards, 2 TDs

Like a Bum

Chris Johnson
The kid can run, but he's up against a Jets defense that has been stifling to the point of not giving up an offensive touchdown in 2 games. They're disciplined, aggressive, and fast, so don't look for this to be CJ's best week. 75 yards, 0 TDs

JaMarcus Russell
I guess I'll explain it. This guy sucks. He's completed less than 40% of his throws on the year, and can't hit WRs short or intermediate. Now he has to throw against Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins in the Broncos secondary. If I have to tell you to sit this guy, I also have to ask why you drafted him in the first place 115 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs

Adrian Peterson
Controversy!!!! Yeah, I know, you should never sit AP, but that 49ers defense is really good, and the Peterson vs Willis battle should be sweet to watch. As amazing as Adrian Peterson is, he can be shut down by top flight defenders, and I think this will be an off week for him. 90 yards, 0 touchdowns.


Matt Forte
Forte has gotten off to a very slow start thus far, but has a favorable match up this week against the banged up Seahawks defense. Seattle is down 2 starting LBs, and you just feel like this kid is primed for a breakout game. 115 yards, 2 TDs, 6 catches, 55 yards

Beanie Wells
Any RB playing the Colts should be considered until they prove otherwise. Wells may not put up a ton of yards, both because the Cardinals barely run the ball, and from ball-ninja Tim Hightower, but I expect him to score on Indy. 85 yards, 2 TDs, 4 catches, 24 yards

Derrick Ward
The Giants were absolutely gashed last week by Dallas, and Tampa Bay has shown some real ability to run the ball. With standout Safety Kenny Phillips lost for the year, and Justin Tuck possibly out with a sore shoulder, there is vulnerability there that Ward absolutely knows how to take advantage of. 110 yards, 1 TD, 5 catches, 65 yards, 1 TD


Friday, September 25, 2009

Week 3 Pick: Most Interesting Watch

There are a couple of games that interest me this week, but not a lot that really stood out. Panthers/Cowboys would be sweet if Jake Delhomme wasn't playing like Brett Favre circa 2005. Vikings/Niners (the only 2-0 team battle) would be great if I had a better feel for what San Fran is at this point. Titans/Jets might be alright, but Tennessee has been really weird this year, so there might not be much to see there. There's really only one game that jumps at me on the Week 3 schedule, and that is:

Indianapolis Colts @ Arizona Cardinals

Over/Under: 48 1/2
Line: Cardinals by 2 1/2

My Thoughts:
That's a very iffy line for the Cards, and if you consider that home field advantage usually nets you a 3 point edge, the Colts are really favored by a half point. Frankly, I'm surprised Arizona is favored at all. They looked awful in their first game, and has a nice rebound in week 2. Indy has been shaky so far, but Peyton Manning finds ways to win games no matter what.

The reason I pegged this game as the Most Interesting is that these teams are almost clones of each other. You have smart QBs who make timely, accurate throws. You have explosive receivers capable if big plays down the field. You have defenses with good (not great) corners and safeties, and very talented pass rushers. You have two teams that don't run the ball well, and aren't known for stopping the run. This is not a game that will be decided on the ground, but rather the fate of these teams resides in the hands of Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning. Whichever guy exploits the opponent's defense more effectively will win.

One thing really stands out about this game, and that's Larry Fitzgerald against the Colts' secondary. He torched Pittsburgh's excellent backfield in the Super Bowl, and the Colts' corners simply don't match up as well. He'll be double (or triple) teamed all day, so Anquan Boldin should find plenty of spots underneath, and Steve Breaston should be able to work effectively out of the slot. Ken Whisenhunt wants to run the ball, but Arizona sucks at it. Beanie Wells was the right pickup for them, but the O-line doesn't run-block well, they don't give him holes, and the Colts LBs are fast enough to close in on him in those tight spots.

The Colts, likewise, are not a run-first team. Donald Brown, like Wells above, was absolutely the right pick, but again, they don't have an elite run-blocking offensive line. Nor, for that matter, do they run behind a fullback to give their runners more room. And I just have no faith in Joseph Addai. Sorry dude. The Colts will come out slinging the ball, and I think it's fair to expect a big-time shootout between two explosive offenses. If you like big plays, highlight-reel catches, and great QB play, this game should be great to watch. Arizona is finally a pretty good team, with the best receiver corps in the game, but Kurt Warner does not outplay Peyton Manning this time.

Colts 31
Cardinals 27

I picked a lot of upsets this week (3 out of 4, actually), so I hope I can't be accused of playing it safe or frontrunning anymore. I actually feel pretty strongly about this week's picks, so I'm interested to see how my record holds up.


Week 3 Pick: Blowout

There is one team in the league for which I could pick a blowout every week. Those would have been a safe pick before the season started, and they have only exceeded offensive expectations. It's tempting to pick the Baltimore/Cleveland game because of the 13 point spread. However, I only see one certifiable blowout on this schedule, and it's:

New Orleans Saints @ Buffalo Bills

Over/Under: 28 1/2
Line: Saints by 6

My Thoughts:
First, how can the over/under on this game be 28 1/2, when the Saints average 46.5 points a game? That is ludicrous, and you have to assume the over on this. Now to the game...

The Bills' secondary has talent. McGee, McKelvin, and McWhitner(?) are all pretty good. Those guys can cover, and they tackle well in the open field. However, the Eagles' secondary is as good or better, and Drew Brees absolutely shredded them. His receivers, tight ends, and running backs can catch the ball at every level, and there aren't enough defensive backs on the Bills to cover them all effectively. The best thing Drew Brees does is find the open receiver and make the accurate throw to the right guy. There is too much potential for offensive explosion for a good, but slightly banged up, Bills defense to contend with.

Buffalo's offense is starting to come together. TO, while not getting a lot of balls thrown his way, is starting to have an impact, and the running game has been really solid. The Bills will challenge the Saints defense in a way they haven't seen yet this year. While Philly has very good skill players, they don't have TO, Lee Evans, and Fred Jackson healthy and working in sync. Plus, Trent Edwards is a way better QB than Kevin Kolb. I think the Bills can score on New Orleans, I just don't know if they can score enough.

I'm amazed by the line on this game. The Saints are favored by 6 on the road, which means they would be favored by 9 at home. The Redskins are favored by more against the Lions (and you know how I picked that game). There's no way this doesn't favor the Saints. I think we'll see a lot of points on the board in this game, but the Saints offense continues to amaze.

Saints 42
Bills 28


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Week 3 Pick: Marquee Game

Not a lot of flash on the Week 3 schedule. Vikings/Niners is the only game between 2-0 teams, but it's too early to know what the 49ers really are. I'm impressed by them, but I'm far from sold on them. The only other game this week that really fits the Marquee bill (from what I saw) is:

Atlanta Falcons @ New England Patriots

Over/Under: 47
Line: Patriots by 4 1/2

My Thoughts:
Atlanta was sort of the NFL's darling Cinderella story last year, and New England has been the marquee team of the decade. Both teams feature high-end quarterbacks, potentially explosive offenses, and defenses that currently qualify as question marks or works in progress. Tom Brady hasn't looked his usual self thus far, whereas Matt Ryan has been pretty sharp.

Atlanta's defense interests me, and Mike Peterson seems to have been an extremely good pickup. He has stepped up as the leader of the defense and improved the quality of play of the whole group. Their secondary doesn't seem particularly strong, and losing Peria Jerry for the season will definitely affect their run defense. Luckily for them, the Pats don't run much anyway. John Abraham can put some real pressure on Brady, and Peterson is just the kind of tough, heady linebacker that could cause a problem.

I don't know what to make of the Patriots this year. The offense has looked very sluggish, lacking any kind of rhythm. Brady looks uncomfortable in the pocket, and his throws have been jittery and off-target. They still haven't gotten the run game going, despite the addition of Fred Taylor, who has more gas in the tank than people (maybe even the Pats) think. The defense has been, and I hate to say it, pretty bad. Losing Harrison, Vrabel, Bruschi, and Seymour has affected them possibly more than they expected. Jerod Mayo's injury sucks even more talent off the field. This is a group that should be good, but has yet to get their act together.

This is a hard game to call. I can see Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez going crazy on the Patriots either old or inexperience linebackers. The Patriots offense, on the other hand, simply has to hit their stride at some point. They have too much talent to continue playing at this level. I can't be entirely sure this is the week it comes together for them, but I think the weak run D and not-as-good-as-the-Patriots-WRs secondary favor a good turnaround.

I see this as a high scoring affair, and the more potent offense will win. I'll go for the Pats on this one, and covering the spread.

Patriots 38
Falcons 31


Week 3 Pick: Upset

Upsets are always fun to pick, because they necessarily entail going out on a huge limb. This week, I'm going out on the biggest limb ever:

Washington Redskins @ Detroit Lions

Over/Under: 38 1/2
Line: Redskins by 6 1/2

My Thoughts:
Picking the Lions to upset? Really? Yes, really. Washington is a hot mess right now; the offense looks awful, and the very-talented defense has shown some real vulnerability. Detroit's offense does have weapons, between Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith, and Brandon Pettigrew. It's not as though this group can't put up yards, and even points. The x-factor here is the Lions' defense. Their linebacking corps received a pretty substantial overhaul. The injury to Ernie Sims is scary, but Larry Foote and Julian Peterson bring a winning mentality and a lot of discipline and skill to the defense.

I believe that the Detroit Lions defense has the potential to be very okay. Louis Delmas holds down an adequate secondary, the LBs are solid, and the D-line is alright. Thankfully, it doesn't take the '85 Bears to stop the Redskins offense. Washington traditionally doesn't play well at Ford Field, and I think this Lions team could really sneak up on them.

Washington is favored by 6 1/2 points here, but since the Lions automatically are spotted 3 for playing at home (usual point spread logic), it's more like a 9 1/2 point spread. With the Redskins' dysfunctional offense likely to sputter in the home of a sneakily okay Lions team, Detroit should more than cover, and I'll call them to win outright.

Lions 20
Redskins 14

My Record after Week 2
7-0, 6-1 against the spread
I think I've played my picks a little too safe so far, so this pick is a huge risk. Don't let me down, Lions!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Giants v Cowboys Recap

Aren't division games exciting?! It was Sunday Night Football, so anyone reading this watched the game. I won't waste your time or mine recapping actual events, so let's get into some analysis.

Eli Manning
This off-season, GM Jerry Reese personally challenged Eli Manning to raise his game, as well as the game of his young, unproven receivers. I'd say that 25 of 38 for 330 yards and 2 touchdowns on a huge stage, facing epic crowd noise, and with no help from the run game earns the boy that huge contract. He hung in the pocket, made smart throws, showed great control and accuracy, and was as cool as they come in a big spot. Eli has turned into Mariano Rivera; there's no one else I'd rather have in the final moments with the game on the line. There may be no better closer in football right now.

Mario Manningham/Steve Smith
I can't just pick one, as both guys had 10 catches and a touchdown. Insane performance for two young guys against what is supposed to be a pretty good defense. Hixon will have a hard time finding his way back into a starting spot with the show these two put on. Like I noted with Manning, both guys delivered huge on a night when the run game sputtered. If the Giants can run effectively in the future, these guys will get open even easier, which is terrifying.

NYG Offensive Line
DeMarcus Ware is a terror. Anthony Spencer is an emerging force of a pass rusher. Jay Ratliff is a Pro Bowl nose tackle. Igor Olshansky is touted as being "strong like bull." The Giants O-line shut them down completely. This same group gave up 8 sacks in last year's battle, zero sacks this year. There were also no false starts in a raucous environment. Let's be careful with the "best o-line in the NFL" talk this year, but this group is extremely good. Eli had great protection on Sunday, and doesn't have near the success he had without these guys.

Dallas Cowboys Run Defense
The Giants have a great run-blocking offensive line, a monster of a bell-cow back, and a quick, strong, and very talented backup. The Cowboys clearly loaded the box to stop the run, and did so with aplomb. Holding the New York Giants to under 100 rushing yards is no easy task, and is thus no small accomplishment. However, the attention they paid to the run game left their DBs extremely vulnerable.

Kenny Phillips/Bruce Johnson
There has been a lot of fearful talk regarding the Giants' secondary in the last few weeks. Most people thought the injuries would expose glaring vulnerabilities in the young players being asked to carry the load. Apparently, they forgot to tell Phillips and Johnson that they're vulnerable. Phillips' INT off Jason Witten's foot was an amazing heads-up play; if he takes his eye off that ball, it falls incomplete. His second, he looked like a punt returner. Johnson just made a great reaction on a stupid Romo throw, and had the presence of mind to run to the end zone. Great, great night for the Miami defensive backfield.

NYG Run Defense
I'll allow that Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice are possibly the best 3-pronged running attack in the NFL. Nonetheless, shoddy tackling and lousy gap control have now been problems 2 weeks in a row. I don't have access to the coach's tape or gameplan, so I don't know if it was just overpursuit, mental/physical errors, or guys being out of position, but 251 ground yards is inexcusable. This needs fixing if the Giants expect to win big games in November and December.

Tony Romo
Do I need to explain this? On a huge stage, with a dramatic home field advantage, supported by a very good offensive line and dominating run game, and facing an injury-crippled defense, Tony Romo delivers an absolute bullshit performance (sorry for the language, but he deserved it). He completed 45% of his passes for only 127 yards, 1 TD, and 3 interceptions. All of those interceptions game on ridiculously ill-advised, poorly executed throws. Face it, Jerry Jones, your golden boy is NOT a big-game quarterback, and I can't see Dallas going anywhere important with this guy under center. The Giants were missing their starting and nickel CBs, a major piece of the DT rotation, JUSTIN FREAKING TUCK (for over half the game), and were just breaking in a new WLB while playing an undrafted rookie in the nickel corner spot, and Romo can't deliver. What a mess.

Dallas WRs
This piggy-backs on the Romo complaint, but this group needs to show up bigger in a big game. Again, big stage, home field advantage, great running, and banged up D, and the wide receivers combine for 4 catches and 49 yards. With a dime back and special teamer in coverage, they couldn't do more? Romo had incredible protection with all day to throw...wasn't anyone getting open? Where were these guys? Time will ultimately tell the whole story, but it sure looked like the Cowboys missed TO this time.

Flozell Adams
You bastard. Holding a guy when he badly beats you on an inside move is one thing, but tripping him and causing an injury is ridiculous. Tripping doesn't usually draw suspensions, but the injury result has to make the league take a closer look. Especially since he drew THE SAME PENALTY last week against the Bucs. What makes it completely unconscionable is his reaction to Tuck calling the move "bush league" :::
"What does that mean? I've never ever heard that term. It's not my fault. I don't know what happened with that. He said he hurt his shoulder. I'm like, 'Well, stay up.' That's all I know. He fell down. Stay up."
Stay up? Hard to stay up when you trip the guy, you moron! Please, Roger Goodell, do more than just fine this jerk.

I think I may have to take back my Lowlight on Santana Moss from last week, because I'm starting to think that maybe Corey Webster really is that good. Roy Williams was held to only one catch. Romo was checking down like crazy, and certainly not because he was under a ton of pressure. Receivers simply weren't getting open, and Webster is the best of that bunch. Like I said last week, it's great to see how the guy has bounced back from his benching 2 years ago.

The Palace in Dallas sure looks spectacular, but my first impression of the "Party Pass" section was "that looks like a miserable cluster-fudge riot." Apparently, Jerry Jones agreed, as they are reducing the access to the area from 30,000 to 10,000. How's that humble pie taste, Jerry?

Speaking of Jerry Jones' inspiring humility, how about the fact that he put a Dallas Star on top of that huge, stupid video board?! Does he need the International Space Station crew to know which stadium is his? What is wrong with this guy?

Also, NBC clearly showed him picking his nose. Take that!

I'm really looking forward to the Giants/Bucs game next week. We've played two very tough teams the first two weeks, and haven't looked particularly impressive. Now we have a chance to work out some of the kinks on a lesser opponent, and hopefully improve some before the serious challengers come around. I think the pass rush will look a lot better against Tampa Bay, as will the run game. Take the opportunity to get it figured out!