Challenge Contests — by Justin Eleff
HELL ON WHEELS 3: @#$%^&*!
Posted Oct. 11 at 03:24 AM
Took a little vacation last week. I didn’t have anything to tell you; Week 5 was one of those times in every NFL season when you know your team cannot possibly improve, and you do your damnedest just to hang on in the standings. I consider myself lucky to have dropped only about 50 places overall in the Football Challenge -- down to 246-247-248. Hey, it only cost me two purchases.
So this week I’m revisiting two summer columns that were themselves, collectively, a revisitation of one from a year ago. Last year’s column was HELL ON WHEELS, detailing the frustration of owning running backs in a suddenly RBBC-mad world. This summer’s two-parter was HELL ON WHEELS REVISITED. Now the bastard offspring that comes when, five weeks into a new year, it’s clear that 2007 is no better than we thought it would be -- indeed, no better than any season in memory.
Team-by-team, are there any players you can own to fix your Rushing Yards and Rushing Average woes?
Edgerrin James is playing well behind a line that must -- must -- be getting good coaching from Russ Grimm. 3.4 yards per carry last year is up to 4.1 this, with a number of favorable matchups left on the schedule. I like Edge as an occasional play, in a kind of loose platoon with others in similar circumstances. It’s why he was one of my two buys this past week (along with Braylon Edwards); I’m hoping to Frankenstein one monster RB out of Edge and Rudi Johnson.
(That’s the short form of No, there are no players on this team who can fix your Rushing Yards and Rushing Average woes. Not until Jerious Norwood takes over completely for Warrick Dunn and, even then, adds 10 lbs. of muscle.)
Willis McGahee lumps into the Edge-Rudi group. If you own him you’re playing the matchups, including the next two vs. STL and at BUF.
Marshawn Lynch may or may not be a must. He is an excellent play even if not.
Most obviously not. Cedric Benson is the new Ron Dayne. Never mind that Ron Dayne ... is ... also ... the new Ron Dayne.
I’ve written enough about Rudi Johnson this year to curse him, his children and at least half of his grandchildren. My apologies, to him and you.
The rebirth of Jamal Lewis may have been too good to last. Sprained foot, maybe worse. Considering that, and (especially) as bad as their defense is, the Browns could be one of those teams that posts surprisingly gigantic passing numbers; hence my Edwards pickup.
No, because Marion Barber’s TD total from a year ago has him too expensive for his part-time role. If Julius Jones happens to go down, though, he becomes something close to automatic. I mean Joseph Addai / Travis Henry pre-suspension automatic.
Travis Henry, Man of the Year.
Let’s all hope they get the suspension settled quickly and (more to the point) definitively. Until he’s suspended he’s an obvious week-in-and-week-out play. After that, I hope Selvin Young will be one.
Yes, that’s the same Selvin Young who barely played at Texas, but stranger things have happened in this very backfield. Young is one of two players who could decide the fate of legions of challenge teams this season -- particularly now, as players in my leagues are actually starting to run out of purchases -- and my dream scenario has him as the new Olandis Gary, putting up enormous numbers down the stretch for my team and my team alone.
Save two buys, at least, for Young and the other of my Two Players of Fate (secret identity compromised below). I’ve managed to save seven so far.
Tatum Bell is such an excellent football player that Kevin Jones apparently has his job back. Kevin Jones is such an excellent football player that the Lions traded a good cornerback for Tatum Bell.
No. Ron Dayne was getting carries even when Ahman Green was healthy.
Of course; Joe Addai starts for you every week.
Except Week 5, when Tony Dungy told you without telling you that Addai wouldn’t suit up, one of the main reasons it was obviously going to be a bad week.
If you didn’t see this coming in the preseason, you didn’t read my columns. There aren’t enough numbers to begin with, and they’re going to too many guys.
Larry Johnson is still hanging around, through two brutal home games against MIN and JAX, and now with much easier sledding ahead. Odds that he winds up as a Top 5 back are still pretty good. I’d say he’s certain to end up in the Top 10, which means, if you can afford him, you can skim some excellent numbers the rest of the way. But he ain’t cheap.
Ronnie Brown has started to astound me; he’s the one guy I’d labeled as a bum coming into the season who has me thinking I may have been wrong. I mean, I didn’t consider owning Randy Moss, either, but it’s hard to think of a player with that sort of ability as a bum. Brown, I thought, just didn’t have it.
OK, and part of this resurgence (or is it just a surgence?) has come from how they’re using him. Cam Cameron is sending a lot of passes to his RBs, and with Brown running well that means Cameron is sending a lot of passes to Brown specifically. But, whatever, there’s no arguing with three straight weeks like this:
112 yards rushing (4.9 average), 99 yards receiving
134 yards rushing (8.9 average), 73 yards receiving
114 yards rushing (5.0 average), 39 yards receiving
No arguing with any of that, especially not this season.
So we all buy Brown, right?
With Cleo Lemon now taking the snaps in Miami? Keeping a couple of shorter TDs for himself? Eventually giving way to the next great quarterback out of BYU?
I can’t do it. If Ronnie Brown -- that utter bum -- beats me, I deserve to be beat.
Adrian Peterson is my new favorite player in the NFL. Watch him for one game and tell me you don’t see the same thing: He’s not quite comparable to any great RB before him; as such, if he stays healthy, he’s legitimately one of the greats. The best back in the league as soon as LaDainian Tomlinson falls off a little, which may even have happened already.
On talent alone? Yes, Laurence Maroney is an outstanding football player. Under the circumstances, though? With Bill Belichick finessing the injury report every week, with Maroney genuinely sore, with the Patriots looking to mix things up even when their best players are 100 percent? I own Maroney. I L-U-V Maroney. I’m thinking about dropping Maroney.
Two years in a row, now, Reggie Bush is setting us up for the monster second half. It’s that much more likely with Deuce McAllister down for the count. My complete faith in Reggie makes him one of a handful of keys to the rest of my season.
NEW YORK GIANTS
No. Brandon Jacobs is too likely to miss more time, Derrick Ward too good at spelling him even when he’s healthy. Guess I could change my mind if either of them suffered a serious injury.
NEW YORK JETS
In Spanish: No.
Tough call, but I’ll go out on that limb: LaMont Jordan’s success so far is a fluke. The scores of challenge teams that have burned for him (636 total so far, including 7 that bought him for last week’s matchup with -- right -- the bye) will regret it. I’ll take Selvin Young heads-up the rest of the way, right now, without hesitation.
Almost certainly. And I almost certainly won’t own him. Brian Westbrook is too regular an inclusion on the injury report, and he’s priced too high to be worth starting when there’s any possibility he won’t play. This is the one guy in the whole league who can undo my season all by himself, and I’m afraid I’ll have to let him if it comes to that.
Flip a coin. On the one hand, I’ve missed the softest part of Willie Parker’s schedule. On the other hand, as demonstrated both by last year’s excellent stat line and this year’s excellent start, he’s fully capable of punishing those who leave him off their rosters. I figure it’s my Edge-’n’-Rudi monster against everyone else’s FWP. Maybe I lose, but I want it noted that my reasons for going the other way -- soft schedules coming up, quite possibly better players than Fast Willie on an even playing field -- are sound.
Yes and yes. LaDainian Tomlinson should be huge the rest of the way. I’m happy with my buy from two weeks ago, looking forward to a long and productive working relationship.
At the same time, some part of me is pulling for a pulled hamstring. Michael Turner is even higher than Selvin Young on the list of players who could break the 2007 season wide open. I hope I get to own both of them, because they’d ease every cap-related concern I have at the moment. Two cheapo fixtures at RB?
I dunno. The team looks awful in general, and there’s nothing worse for a running back to see than the name DILFER on the jersey in front of him. That said, Frank Gore is a caged beast right now, an all-world talent with all of the external factors in the world working against him. Can he break out of that kind of cage? I’ll say this: I could’ve dropped him last week. I didn’t. I’d love to be able to plug Gore into my lineup with the two cheapos I just mentioned -- Turner and Young -- and take my chances.
R.I.P., Shaun Alexander.
No. Not Steven Jackson’s year.
In this week’s Fantasy Index ReDrafter -- well worth the money, by the way -- our own Ian Allan lists possible trade targets for the Bucs after injuries have decimated their RB corps -- trade targets including, in alphabetical order, Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, Reuben Droughns, Priest Holmes, Mewelde Moore, LaBrandon Toefield and Smokin’ Ricky Williams. As near as I can tell, Ian is serious about all of this. Good God.
No, unless you count Vince Young as a player who can help. I might if he’d crack 200 yards passing every once in a while.
I still think Clinton Portis is a great player when he’s healthy. Which means he’s something like 80 percent of a great player now -- just enough to eliminate himself and Ladell Betts from consideration.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER ...
What I own at the position at the moment, in descending order by salary:
If you counted eleven names just then, you counted correctly.
What I’d like to own:
Ten this time, and it assumes that Tomlinson hurts himself (he won’t) and Henry gets his suspension (he will). Remember that Rudi and Edge essentially occupy one slot, not two; they’re a platoon, at least in theory.
If there are lessons here, these are the lessons:
One, you’re going to need at least one purchase in the hole, maybe two. If either Young or Turner comes available, I say you buy him right when it happens.
Two, if for no other reason than the fact that taking an occasional zero will kill your bulk Rushing Yards, you have to stay away from Maroney, probably Westbrook and the weekly assortment of guys who appear to be on the doubtful side of questionable.
Three, platoons like my Edge-’n’-Rudi should work most weeks. I see those two, Willis McGahee and maybe Ronnie Brown as the best of the platoon candidates.
Four, outside of such ever-so-cute platoons, it’s time to start drifting to opposite ends of the salary spectrum. Bush, Lynch, Peterson and either or both of Young and Turner become the keys to starting Tomlinson, L.J. and Gore, who should all finish where we always thought they would: at or near the top of the RB heap.
Five, with that said, you own the best players wherever they fall in the salary spectrum, and you start them every week. A healthy Joseph Addai is a fixture in every lineup. Travis Henry, too, until the bitter end.
And six -- the companion to that last one, and perhaps the most important lesson of all -- stop using your bums. Cedric Benson is not suddenly going to break loose. Laurence Maroney might ... or he might not play again until Week 11, and Bill Belichick wouldn’t tell his mother’s priest until ten minutes before kickoff every week.
In other words, the solution to most of our troubles, I have to think, is already there on our rosters: Use your good players, don’t use your other players, and let the good make up for the bad you’ve suffered through so far.
Or, you know.
Go back and start the season with F. Willie Parker on your roster. Randy Moss, too.
Add a Comment
Already a registered user? Please sign in to add comments.
To add comments, you must become a registered user of our site. To register, please click here.