A Day of Football
Posted Sep. 24 at 05:50 AM
Sometimes you lose a little faith in football: Players don't play well, the games take too long, there are a lot of sloppy, mistake-filled contests. And then days like Sunday come along, and you remember why you love the sport.
So many incredible things happened yesterday, I'm not sure I can touch on all of them. But I know I can come up with 10.
1. Jamaal Charles' 91-yard touchdown run. So I traded Chris Johnson for Charles in my dynasty league this offseason, a decision that didn't look so hot in August with all the preseason happy talk about CJ having a bounce-back season. But that was only part of the reason why it was so awesome to see a running back coming off a torn ACL find a hole and explode through it for a 91-yard touchdown run, part of a 233-yard day. (At the end, as he hit 30-plus carries, I started pleading for them to take him out of the game; tough to do with Peyton Hillis injured and the game headed to overtime. As was the case with Adrian Peterson scoring 2 TDs in Week 1, it was something great to see. I thought Charles' breakout game would come against Buffalo; alas, I was a week too soon. If you hoped to buy low on him, of course, you're a week too late.
2. Music City Miracle II. You can watch an entire weekend of football without seeing a punt return touchdown, a kickoff return touchdown, a successful onside kick, a successful Hail Mary, and overtime. And this game had all of them, as well as a defensive touchdown, a stunning decision to go for a 4th and 1 that ended the game (later revealed to be a mistake), and some big numbers by big stars (Calvin Johnson), future stars? (Titus Young, Mikel Leshoure) And that crazy punt return touchdown that included a lateral right out of that long-ago playbook that stunned the Bills in the playoffs. That was the game when Wade Phillips benched Doug Flutie for Rob Johnson, which is just as indefensible today as it was then. Eight different receivers put up at least 55 receiving yards in this game. There was a defensive touchdown. A quarterback got hurt trying to make a tackle. And oh yeah Chris Johnson put up another game of rushing for less than 2 yards per carry (14 for 24, 1.7). I should mention that the Titans would have won by 2 TDs in regulation but for a personal foul penalty negating an otherwise game-ending interception. So if you won or lost because of Calvin Johnson's final-minute touchdown, that play shouldn't have even occurred. If there's a crazier game this season, I don't know what it will be. Oh yeah -- Jake Locker had a huge game, too.
3. De-icing the kicker. Will games like this one -- where a kicker misses a kick, but it doesn't count because the opposing team called a timeout, and he then proceeds to make it -- put an end to this icing the kicker nonsense? Probably not, because it's gone down that way before, but maybe it will happen a little bit less. That was just the ending of this game, which saw Reggie Bush get hurt (apparently not seriously), the Jets use Tim Tebow without success on one goal line series, then keep him on the bench the next, Mark Sanchez throw an awful end-zone interception, Shonn Greene run a bunch of plays into the line, and the Jets ultimately win. New York in the red zone was supposed to be dynamic and entertaining with Tebow and the Wildcat; instead they're simply brutal to watch. Will Tebow get sacked, Sanchez get picked, or Greene run into his blockers? Tune in to find out! Jets lost Darrelle Revis to injury, which is gonna hurt.
4. More C.J. Spiller. You may recall that we loved C.J. Spiller coming out of Clemson, so it was disappointing that he struggled so much as a rookie. But he finished strong last year, has been a star replacing Fred Jackson this season, and almost immediately took a screen pass out of the backfield for a long touchdown against Cleveland. Spiller got hurt later, but the good news is that what looked like a major injury when it happened apparently won't keep him out for long; couple of weeks.
5. No-names one day, big names the next. We all hate injuries, but since they happen in football and everyone knows they do, you can't do much but roll with them and hope non one gets hurt too badly. But the fact that they happen makes football, more than any other sport, ideal for fantasy, because each and every week there's some bottom of the roster type of guy who emerges as the top fantasy pickup a week later. Kevin Ogletree, Alfred Morris, Andre Brown, Dennis Pitta, Tashard Choice? You don't get it in other sports, or in other fantasy sports. Today and tomorrow we'll all be getting our claims in for Choice or maybe Lamar Miller. Next week it will be somebody else. Can't wait!
6. Cecil Shorts' long touchdown. I sort of had my eye on Cecil Shorts coming out of college, and he too did absolutely nothing as a rookie, unable to make an impact on the league's poorest receiving corps a year ago. So it was nice, after the Colts had taken the lead, for Blaine Gabbert -- robbed of a dramatic game-winning touchdown to Shorts in Week 1 by a long field goal -- connecting with Shorts for an 80-yarder to win the game. Andrew Luck is going to have a lot of wins in his future, so it was fun to see Gabbert and Shorts, on their second try, get one here.
7. Those incredible Cincinnati wideouts. The Bengals began their win over Washington with rookie Mohamed Sanu throwing a perfect touchdown bomb to A.J. Green. I watched it saying, Wow, nice downfield throw, Andy Dalton! Before realizing oh, that's not him. A little bit later Armon Binns took a short pass for a touchdown, and then slot receiver Andrew Hawkins made another electric TD reception, zipping through the defense. And the Bengals still have rookie Marvin Jones, who might yet emerge. Remember a few years back when the team dealt Chad Ochocinco and figured to struggle at wideout? Now it's tough figuring out which one (or three) is the future No. 2. Exciting receiving corps, and Dalton is looking pretty good in both NFL and fantasy terms.
8. Arizona's defensive touchdown. I picked up Arizona's defense and started them everywhere this week, over regular starters like New England and Seattle. So as I watched Michael Vick drop back near the AZ goal line in the final seconds of the first half, it looked like slow motion as a defender came around to his blindside, clobbered him, and the ball bounced directly to James Sander, who with the help of a great block took it all the way for a touchdown as the half ran out. It was right out of that Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl. The best thing about it, though, was Larry Fitzgerald, sprinting down the sideline, helmet in hand, to celebrate with his defensive teammates. Fitzgerald is the kind of guy you like to root for, and he's certainly earned it with the quarterbacking he's had to deal with the last couple of years. And after Kevin Kolb's strong game, who knows? Maybe he's finally got something positive there, too.
9. Return of Darren McFadden. McFadden was a guy I tried hard to buy low on last week, without success. He's a tremendously talented guy who -- unlike Chris Johnson -- I thought could turn things around quickly. Didn't really expect it against Pittsburgh, but there it was. Great effort on a second TD that ended up being ruled short on a replay review. Still, good for McFadden, and good for the Raiders. Steelers have a rough entrance to their bye, but they should be healthier coming out, so that's something.
10. Torrey Smith. It's kind of a shame that everyone is talking about the officiating, because it's a lot more enjoyable talking about Smith, who played with a heavy heart and without question was the difference in the game. Baltimore loses by 10 points if Smith doesn't take the field, and no one would have faulted him if he sat out. How many amazing games have the Patriots and Ravens played in the last few years? This was another of them, and you have to think they might well meet again in January.
Monday, Monday: Tonight's game will probably seem anticlimactic after the crazy Sunday that was. I'm thinking more defense than offense (but I thought that about Patriots-Ravens), and maybe another upset. Let's call it Seahawks 24, Packers 23, with some sort of crazy defensive or special teams play deciding it. Because that's the kind of weekend it was. A few weeks from now, we might still be talking about it.
Posted by BILL REHOR | Sep. 24 at 09:17 AM
Hey Andy, thanks for the column. I'm still searching for a cheap #3 receiver with upside. Swung and missed on Streater, Henderson and Hill. Anyone catch your eye this week who might still be on waivers? Hawkins is gone, alas. Maybe one of the ARZ guys? Anyone other than Garcon going to amount to anything in WAS? Shorts? Kerley? Or do I roll the dice on J. Simpson and hope MIN keeps it going? Any other thoughts would be great, I have room to grab 2 or 3 and see what happens. Thanks for the input.
Posted by MARK CLURE | Sep. 24 at 09:21 AM
Hi Andy, Interesting development...Heath Miller fantasy stud. Sell high or roll with him(I have Gresham as well).
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Sep. 24 at 09:42 AM
Bill I would grab Simpson. He got a lot of positive talk in the preseason, and he's a talented guy. He'll definitely be the No. 2 WR in Minnesota. I like Hankerson OK in Washington; who knows how long Garcon will be out. Kerley seems to be a steady part of the offense with the Jets, remarkably enough. Those are about it. Mark, I think Miller is for real, at least as a scorer. They were throwing to him in the exhibitions, too, and Roethlisberger says he wants to get him to the Pro Bowl. I'd keep him.
Posted by Doug Lockhart | Sep. 24 at 09:57 AM
Hey Andy...Thanks for the great writeup. It was a Sunday for the ages...even with replacement officials. BTW, I am desperate for a fill-in RB for week 4. It's down between Tashard Choice or Daniel Thomas. What's your preference?
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Sep. 24 at 10:17 AM
Andy: Thanks for the AZ D advice. That made up for your NE tip in Week 2 (Hahaha). I think I'll keep them. I officially came to the realization yesterday that Dancing CJ is worthless (I was holding out hope). If you can't put up decent numbers against Detroit in a game that your team is winning most of the way, there is no hope. Donald Brown is almost worthless too. He got most of his yards in catch up time (I was actually surprised he was on the field in the first place). And just when you think that it's safe to own a Patriots RB, the two geniuses strike again. Danny Woodhead and his 2 YPC and 1 catch for 9 yards really made a big difference, didn't he? And I'm sure they had a good reason to put Brandon Bolden in at the goal line too. Arrogant people who think they're smarter than everybody else tend to do those things. Sorry for the rant.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Sep. 24 at 10:17 AM
Choice in a landslide
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Sep. 24 at 10:20 AM
Yeah, the Patriots running back utilization was annoying. It wasn't surprising seeing Woodhead busy because you knew New England would emphasize passing formations against the Ravens. I can only assume they stuck Bolden in there so Baltimore wouldn't expect a running play. In fairness, if you start a running back against Baltimore you know you're taking a chance. Still, unfortunate.
Posted by Doug Lockhart | Sep. 24 at 10:55 AM
Duly noted...Thanks Andy!
Posted by Roy Sherman | Sep. 24 at 11:15 AM
Andy, would you still pick Choice over Leshoure or Jacquizz Rodgers?
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Sep. 24 at 11:27 AM
Roy - Would definitely rather have Leshoure, who might be Detroit's starter the rest of the way. Choice is more of a Week 4 -- only -- pickup.
Posted by t d | Sep. 24 at 01:03 PM
I got a little cocky last week rolling with Vick again and it burned me. I had Flacco on the bench which really hurt. It's going to be difficult playing Vick again this year and I think its Flacco or bust for me at this point. I also have Alex Smith, but wanted to see if you see any QB sleepers this week. I hate to say but I'm actually considering Kevin Kolb as a play. What do you think?
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Sep. 24 at 01:37 PM
would probably still use vick, although not happily. Not much upside with kolb, he is going to be managing some low scoring wins. Are you starting 2 Qbs? Flacco should be a good play most weeks.
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Sep. 24 at 01:41 PM
Andy: Reports now are that F-Jax will practice this week and could play Sunday and CJ's injury is not as bad as first thought which makes Choice less attractive. Which of these RB do you see having the most upside for the rest of the season. Dan Thomas/Miller (don't like either much if reports on Bush's injury are correct), Powell (sounds like Rex may be tiring of Greene), David Wilson (I still think he can play a role this season), Ryan Williams (could possibly take the job and run with it if Beanie has turf toe)? Also, your thoughts on Hilton now that Collie is OFS (poor kid can't catch a break)? Drew sure seemed to like him yesterday. Thanks much.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Sep. 24 at 01:55 PM
Williams first. Still like Choice in Week 4, really doubt FJax plays much if at all. I dont think Thomas can play. Hilton behind Avery but sure there is upside there. Powell probably better than Greene so yeah I would add him, but keep expectations low. Wilson firm No. 3, so...
Posted by t d | Sep. 24 at 02:05 PM
Andy, I'm in the NFFC and I try to play high risk/reward guys. I had a great first two weeks, but made some bad calls yesterday. I start only one QB and have Vick, Flacco, and Alex Smith. I personally despise Vick, but was desperate for a QB with upside when I drafted. The FA wire is pretty barren with Kolb & Ponder which don't really help me too much. I like Flacco this week but think the game may be a blow out which could limit Flacco's numbers. As for Vick, I don't think he will make it out of the Giants game in one piece.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Sep. 24 at 02:43 PM
I like Ponder much more than your other options. Schedule also very favorable the next few weeks.
Posted by t d | Sep. 24 at 02:44 PM
Thanks Andy! Look forward to the weekly rankings later in the week.
Posted by DAVID DIGREGORIO | Sep. 24 at 04:07 PM
Add this to your database. Fitzgerald has played 5 games against the Eagles. His record: 35, 570 (16.3avg.) 9TDs. He did it again on Sunday 9 receptions (on 9 targets) 114 yards 1TD. Even with Kolb throwing him the ball.
Posted by Brett Watts | Sep. 24 at 04:27 PM
Andy. Please name some RB options you think would be fair to target in a trade so that I can dump CJnoK. My league mates are not big on trading, but I think I may be able to get Ben Tate from one of them. I can't believe it has come to this. Otherwise I may have to try (again) to package him with a WR. Am I doomed to carry him on my bench all season?
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Sep. 24 at 05:23 PM
I'm not sure you can do anything with CJ but put the word out, message board or trading block, that he's available and see what comes your way. I suppose the other possibility is to look at teams who have a decent back they're not currently starting and offer him up. I don't really see things getting better for him anytime soon.
Posted by Robert Song | Sep. 25 at 12:10 PM
Thanks for the column, Andy. 3 things: There are some good WRs on the waiver wire in our league. I am pretty solid at WR but always looking to improve my roster. I have Julio Jones, Victor Cruz and Reggie Wayne. I also have Jordy Nelson and Macolm Floyd and I am thinking of putting in for Eric Decker or Nate Washington. My feeling is that I should drop Jordy for Decker. What are your thoughts? Also, is it time to give up on Peyton Hillis? I could drop him to add Jacquizz Rodgers, Jackie Battle or Tashard Choice. And finally, I picked up Andrew Luck late in the draft. Trouble is now I have to drop a QB because he and Roethlisberger (my starter) are on bye. I am thinking drop Luck and add Dalton at least for this week. Carson Palmer is available too. How would you play that? Thanks a lot.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Sep. 25 at 01:14 PM
I like Decker more than Floyd; I would not want to drop Nelson. (I like Floyd too, but would rank him behind Nelson-Decker.) Would you really want to drop Nelson with the Saints coming to town this week? Yes, I would drop Hillis for Rodgers, or -- if you can carry 3 QBs for a week -- for Dalton this week. If you can only keep 2 QBs, I guess drop Luck, but I'd hate to do that myself.
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