A Day of Football
Posted Oct. 22 at 06:13 AM
Without looking it up (because really, who has the time), I'm thinking there have been way more overtime games through the first seven weeks of the season than there typically are. And if you add in the number of games decided on field goals at the end of regulation (and I'm not sure anyone officially tracks such things), there have been a whole lot of games decided in the final seconds so far.
It's kind of like fantasy football, really, where the line between having a 2-5 team and a 5-2 team is pretty small, just like in the NFL. Or at least it seems that way if you have a 2-5 team. If you've got a team sitting at 5-2, you tend to just feel good about your awesome draft and fantastic management. And you should. But don't feel too good, because as the Cardinals -- who've gone from 4-0 to 4-3 in the space of three weeks -- are finding out, stuff changes quickly. The difference between the good teams and the bad teams is small in the NFL. Maybe it is in your league, too.
OK, a quick spin through the games I watched the most of yesterday.
Cardinals at Vikings: I don't think there's a more surprising team in the league than the 5-2 Vikings, who it should be noted could easily have won every game to this point. They've got an inhuman running back and do-it-all wide receiver, but the biggest surprise is their defense. We can carp a little -- their schedule has been soft; how have they made it to Week 8 without playing either the Bears or Packers? -- but it's pretty impressive what they've done. That said, they've had a couple of very frustrating fantasy options in Christian Ponder and Kyle Rudolph. With Ponder, I guess you get what you deserve if you started him with favorable expectations, but six teams were on byes and you could hope for more than 58 passing yards, right? Rudolph has 5 TDs -- and two games where he's been totally shutout in standard scoring leagues. I won't be recommending either player anymore, because this is a team that will sit on leads when they get them. Imagine if Harvin's opening kick return TD had stood up. ... Wondering what happened to William Powell? He fumbled an early kickoff, and LaRod Stephens-Howling played well. I think that's Stephens-Howling's last good game, but he's got the edge right now.
Titans at Bills: Obviously I owe Chris Johnson a big mea culpa. What can I say? I watched him in the first month or so of the season, when he was doing nothing, and didn't see how things would get better. He looked fine in open space, but he wasn't getting any. Now, he won't face the Bills every week, but he sure looked like CJ2K yesterday. (And could easily have scored 3-4 TDs, too, if the Titans weren't sticking Jamie Harper in the game at the goal line, with one of his failings looking like it would cost Tennessee the game. While I'm handing out apologies, I apparently owe on to Matt Hasselbeck, too. Not totally done. ... I am thinking Ian will reconsider his idea that Buffalo will make the playoffs. What a horrible defensive team they are; they actually made another horrible defensive team, Tennessee, look functional. Be careful chasing yesterday's stats in the future, 'cause those might be the league's two worst defenses. Or they're in the top 5 with New Orleans and Oakland, anyway. ... Random aside: With that squarish head and beard, Ryan Fitzpatrick looks kind of like a Civil War General. Put a big hat on him and give him a sword and we'd have a nice reenactment.
Washington at Giants: What a game. Alfred Morris lost a fumble, but otherwise continues to look like a legitimate franchise running back. Actually, if you're a regular Index reader I'm guessing there are two key components to most of your teams -- Morris and Victor Cruz, who we had as the No. 2 wideout for most of the preseason. Cruz could easily have scored another touchdown yesterday, he was open and Manning threw it behind him. But they got theirs later. ... Time to cut bait on Pierre Garcon. If you have a deep roster yes he can be stashed, but if you don't, it's time to go. It sounds like it will be another month before he even plays at this point. Guy could be having a big year, instead it's lost. Based on yesterday, Leonard Hankerson will be the main beneficiary. Two TDs for Santana Moss (one a pretty amazing throw and catch that looked like it might win the game), but he still doesn't seem to be getting enough chances to be reliable. Although after yesterday maybe that will change, despite his game-ending fumble after a reception. ... Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks are both healthy enough, now, that they can be used each week. Quiet games yesterday, but they'll be fine. ... Funny to hear the Giants defenders lauding Robert Griffin III after the game. "Best quarterback we've seen this year. I won't even lie...." were typical comments. Watching the game yesterday, I'm plenty sold too. The guy is already great. Got a feeling we're going to be debating Luck versus Griffin for a lot of years.
Saints at Bucs: This is a game the Bucs should have won. No, you can't shut down Drew Brees, but the Bucs did well enough in the second half that it was there for them. First things first, let's say goodbye to LeGarrette Blount, who after a long Vincent Jackson reception down to the 1-yard line got 3 chances to punch it in and went nowhere. Against a bad Saints defense. Part of it is that when you line him up back there the defense knows what's coming, and part of it is that he's simply not a good short yardage back. And if he doesn't bring that to the table, or those cool hurdling plays in the open field, he brings nothing. Not that I'm blaming him for the loss, but I think you'll see the Bucs sticking with Doug Martin (not that's HE'S a good short yardage back, either) going forward. ... Crazy ending, with Josh Freeman throwing what could have been a pair of game-tying touchdowns at the end. Jackson couldn't get his heels in on one of them, and Mike Williams had stepped out of the back of the end zone before the other. Unfortunate for them, but a good day for those of us who recommended guys like VJax, Williams and Freeman. Offensive players against the Saints; it's about the best fantasy choice you can make right now.
Jets at Patriots: There were only two 4 p.m. games yesterday, oddly; not sure why the NFL couldn't stick another game in that time slot. Both went overtime, so at least they were good ones. I watched all of this one, and came away with what a lot of people are saying today: Jets should have won. Patriots looked pretty bad for a winning team. You're feeling pretty good today if you're a Texans fan, because despite that hiccup against the Packers, they're looking like a shoo-in for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. ... People ask me what's wrong with the Jets. I think it's simple: In an offense-driven league, their offense just isn't good enough at any of the skill positions. Start with Mark Sanchez. In a 16-7 game -- which had gone from 14-7 after Sanchez botched a handoff to Shonn Greene near his own goal line and had to kick it through the end zone -- Sanchez had Stephen Hill 10 yards behind his man for an easy touchdown, but floated it and it was intercepted. That's a play you can't miss and remain as a starting quarterback for long. So he's flawed. Later on, he was on target with his throws, but with Hill wide-freaking-open in the final minute on a third down, Hill let a perfect pass clang off both his hands. All he had to do was make that catch, fall down, and the Jets probably win the game. He's a rookie and can't be criticized too harshly, but that's just an inexcusable drop. Not good enough. The Jets are 3-4, and could easily have beat the Texans and Patriots in the last three weeks with a play or two in each game. I realize, as I said earlier, that that's the NFL these days. But you can look at the league's best teams, who lose close games (Green Bay early on), and say, they're going to be fine, because the offensive talent is there. You look at the Jets and say, they're going to lose games like this all season long.
Maybe you can look at a 2-5 fantasy team and say the same thing.
Monday, Monday: The popular belief, based on everything we've seen out of both teams so far, is that the Bears defense will simply overwhelm a struggling Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense, and win something like 27-17. For some reason I'm sitting here thinking, maybe the Lions will surprise us, and the Bears will surprise us, and Detroit will win like 27-24. Because that's how the NFL is these days: You think you have it all figured out, and one game changes everything. I'll go with a crazy Lions upset. In overtime, of course, or on a last-second field goal.
Posted by Brett Watts | Oct. 22 at 07:43 AM
Hi Andy. I may still have some hope at 3-4. So should I drop William Powell for Stephens-Howling? Also, what happened to Kyle Rudolph? I dropped Pitta and traded for Rudolph because Pitta was under performing. I also just picked up Dreessen. Should I start Rudolph vs Bucs wk 8 or Dreessen vs Saints? Thanks!
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Oct. 22 at 07:48 AM
At the moment it's Stephens-Howling's job. I don't imagine he'll go for 100 yards again all season, but he's ahead of Powell. Personally I'd use Rudolph over Dreessen, but both guys are risky -- Rudolph because Minnesota likes to go conservative with leads, Dreessen because Jacob Tamme is also involved.
Posted by DAVID DIGREGORIO | Oct. 22 at 08:27 AM
Speaking about seeing things through your own prism: I Went to 40 hours devotion and had to miss the end of the 2 late games. Came back, and God rewarded me by sending both games into OT. However, I cannot claim sainthood, as the results were mixed.
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Oct. 22 at 08:30 AM
Andy: Agree wholeheartedly on the Minny situation. Ponder is just not that good to begin with and he's probably playing hurt despite his denials. I think there are weeks when Rudolph can be used, but those would only be in games that are likely to be high scoring or the Vikes play from behind. They have played their hand twice now playing with a lead and I ain't buyin. Thinking that Rudy was an every week start, I dropped Bennett and picked up H. Miller prior to yesterday because Bennett and Rudolph have the same bye week. Now I'm thinking I may be better off with Bennett or Chandler, Celek or Finley (who are also FA's) instead of Rudy. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Oct. 22 at 08:34 AM
I never understand why Celek doesn't get more love in fantasy circles. He's scored in two straight and has three other games with good yardage. Neither Chandler nor Finley are reliable. Miller is having a strong year. Guys like Bennett and Finley have the same problem -- the wide receivers are too good. So I guess I'd consider dropping Rudolph for Celek, although I think you have things pegged; there will be games Minnesota has to throw to him (like against Green Bay and Chicago, although one of those GB games is Week 17).
Posted by BEN HOGEVOLL | Oct. 22 at 08:47 AM
Andy what is wrong with D williams?? the 42 million $$ man who carried the ball twice for four total yards vs dallas.He has cost me plenty this year and is goen off my team for good. thanks
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Oct. 22 at 10:13 AM
Don't feel so bad, he just cost Panthers GM Marty Hurney his job. He's one of the reasons, anyway. It's a broken offense and Williams is one of four potential ball carriers for any given snap, particularly around the goal line. He's just a 2012 fantasy bust.
Posted by Brett Watts | Oct. 23 at 09:50 AM
Hi Andy. With Texans DST on a bye, which is the best DST play: Dolphins, Lions, or Browns? Thanks!
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