Challenge Contests — by Justin Eleff
One Down ...
Posted Sep. 10 at 02:49 AM
Off to a good start everywhere. I won in my local league with Aaron Rodgers and Chris Johnson and Lee Evans on the bench. I'm 2nd in league, 13th in division, 214th overall in the Football Challenge (league 25, I Chase The Devil). I'm 4th in league and 275th overall in Fanball's Fantasy Football (league 49, One Big Holiday). And I'm 1st overall in Fanball's Free Fantasy Football, coming off of some ridiculous Week 1 luck (division 8, Good Golly Miss Molly).
Best of all, I only started Tom Brady on one of those teams, and didn't really build around him anywhere.
We know more now than we did a week ago. Not a lot more, but more. I won't pretend to have definitive answers to life's big questions, but I know this:
Matt Cassel (NE) looked good. Smart, not jumpy. Maybe it was beginner's luck, maybe KC was as stunned as everyone else to see Brady go down, but 13-of-18 is good. No question I'd rather own Cassel than J.T. O'Sullivan right now, but I'll hold off for a couple of weeks before I think about buying him ...
... because Aaron Rodgers (GB) looked even better. Smart, decisive. Just a few years ago it was getting to be common wisdom that sitting your future franchise QB for a season or two was the right approach; it worked with Daunte Culpepper and Carson Palmer, and it may have worked by accident with David Garrard. The only time I can remember feeling confident that a guy wouldn't suffer for immediate immersion is right now, with Matt Ryan, who seems to have his proverbial ... stuff ... together. But back to Rodgers: He's ready, and he's ready enough that I doubt I'll need to think about Cassel or anyone else until he hurts himself.
(Side note, speaking of QBs not starting right away: Cassel's story is not much different from Brady's, no? Cassel hasn't started a game since high school; Brady started his last two years at Michigan (holding off a
stiff challenge from stiff Drew Henson) but seemed buried behind Brian Griese before that. Look, Brad Johnson lost his starting job at Florida State to Casey Weldon. The fact that Cassel couldn't beat out Matt Leinart doesn't convince me that Leinart is the better player. I believe Cassel could rival Rodgers as this year's breakout QB. I'm not saying he will. I'm saying it wouldn't shock me.)
At running back, lots of additional information.
Rumors of Edgerrin James' death, as ever, appear to have been exaggerated. And Tim Hightower (ARZ) is no Chris Johnson.
Michael Turner (ATL) has a tough schedule, and I'm still not sold on the Falcons' line or on Ryan as more than passable, but Turner's talent will carry several days this season. I'd guess he'll be useful in at least 8 games, given perfect health, including every one of those in which he should obviously help (Week 3 vs. KC, Week 9 at OAK, Week 11 vs. DEN).
Matt Forte (CHI) is a man's man, and the man whose man he is is Brian Urlacher. Read that sentence again; I'm an artist. Urlacher couldn't say enough about Forte after the Bears ate Indy's dinner on Sunday night -- and he didn't limit his praise to Forte's one-night performance, either. Urlacher claims to have loved Forte since he got to camp. I still have my doubts about the line in Chicago, but we have time now. The first really cushy matchup comes in Week 5 (at DET). Wait and see.
Chris Perry (CIN) is nothing special. Nor, for that matter, is Tyler Perry.
Selvin Young (DEN) cannot be owned, and give this old dog credit for finally learning Mike Shanahan's old trick. Until an Adrian Peterson type -- a legit Hall of Famer -- winds up in the Broncos' backfield, I've sworn Shanahan off completely.
Kevin Smith (DET) is nothing special. Nor, for that matter, is Kevin Smith.I was right to believe Ryan Grant (GB) would heal more quickly than Willis McGahee (BAL). (See the comments section of last week's column.)
Steve Slaton (HOU) had his chance -- albeit a tough one at PIT -- and blew it. He probably won't lead the team in carries again for a few weeks ... which is just as well: vs. BAL, at TEN, at JAX coming up.
Ronnie Brown (MIA) is healthier than we thought. Ricky Williams will not lead the Dolphins in carries.
Even with Brady down, Laurence Maroney (NE) is indeed no full-timer in Bill Belichick's eyes. It's almost creepy to me how the Pats pulled Brady off of the injury list for the first time in years last week, right after keeping both Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan to back Maroney at tailback -- with Kevin Faulk and Heath Evans still around as well. Like they knew it was coming ...
Reggie Bush (NO) looked surprisingly great against what should prove to be a tough defense in Tampa Bay. There are ingredients here, still -- the huge reputation coming out of USC, the excellent O-line, the even better passing game keeping defenders on their heels. Bush has wounded me deeply the past two years, and I'll have to finish healing before I think about buying him, but Weeks 3, 4 and 6 at DEN, vs. SF and vs. OAK look awfully good right now. Let's see him in Week 2.
Brett Favre will see that Thomas Jones (NYJ) scores 7+ TDs.
I'm a little stunned, still, that Justin Fargas got more work than Darren McFadden (OAK) on Monday night. I know everyone said it would happen this way (Fargas did run for 1,000 yards a year ago), and I know DMC hurt himself late, but still. Bad team takes RB with No. 4 overall pick. RB is the next-closest thing to Adrian Peterson -- fast like that, wicked, clearly the best back in the SEC in a full generation -- and team opens in prime time, and ... nothing? Al Davis looked like a confused old man sitting alone in his owner's box. Guess I should have known not to expect more touches for McFadden after all; it's not like I'm scooping Chris Mortensen with Al Davis is a confused old man.
Willie Parker (PIT) will vex me again in 2008. I cannot read the guy; I won't own him, so you probably should.
Mike Martz has finally come to his senses, or O'Sullivan is so limited that Martz has no choice but to lean on better players. Whatever, Frank Gore (SF) looked every inch the part of the vintage Marshall Faulk.
Earnest Graham (TB) looked good enough in 13 touches that Jon Gruden came away promising to up that number considerably, just in time for a game vs. ATL this weekend.
Chris Johnson (TEN) is the smartest purchase this week. He looks incredible -- he's just too fast not to make an impact, running or catching the ball -- and he got more work than LenDale White to boot. Probably White now becomes the fourth quarter guy, winding down the clock when the Titans are up a few points, and as such I may have been wrong to think he'd improve his yards-per-carry average from a year ago. Defenses will know who's getting the ball when White's in the game. But Johnson? At CIN and vs. HOU the next two weeks? You have to drop Brady anyway, right?
Many fewer insights at WR and elsewhere. I will say that Ted Ginn (MIA) looked clueless working against Darrelle Revis of the Jets, and that I'm worried that Jabar Gaffney (NE) caught zero passes despite being on the field nearly every snap for the Pats. It is not a good year for cheap receivers. Even DeSean Jackson (PHI) and Eddie Royal (DEN) will dry up as veterans return from injury (every other Eagle) and suspension (Brandon Marshall).
Unlike with Gaffney, I'm not worried about Randy Moss, both because I have a measure of faith in Cassel and because any first-timer would look to Moss as his first and second options on most plays.
And that's that. I'm probably 50/50 on making any buys this week in the Football Challenge -- the first one would indeed be Johnson -- and it's little details that will tip me one way or the other. Marion Barber's ribs. Any additional news in this weird Vince Young story. I'm not nearly callous enough to hope for anything other than physical and mental health for Young, but I am callous enough to note that an extended absence would further refine the division of labor between Johnson and White. No goal-line carries for Young means more for White, yes, but also probably ensures that Johnson keeps 60% or more of the total work.
Hope your season started well. Now keep it up.
Posted by Richard Loppnow | Sep. 10 at 07:35 AM
Season didn't start well. So 'ptooie' on you and everyone whose did. Okie-dokie, thanks for the article, including schedule tidbits where you deemed them relevant. Not quite ready to pull the plug on Young or Maroney. But I'm now forearmed for such. :-)
Posted by michael rivera | Sep. 11 at 11:17 AM
congrats on your good start. We had all summer to set that first weeks lineup. Now the fun begins!
Posted by JUSTIN ELEFF | Sep. 14 at 02:23 AM
Pulled the trigger twice in the Football Challenge, dropping T.Brady and D.Hester for C.Johnson (TEN) and L.Fitzgerald. I wanted Johnson for sure, as I wrote above. Fitzgerald or another stud WR became necessary (in for A.Johnson) with the BAL-HOU postponement. My active receivers for Week 2 now include Fitzgerald, Edwards, Marshall, Cotchery and C.Johnson (DET) - those five and A.Johnson are my top 6 at the position, all factors considered post-Brady, and I'm geeked to own all 6. Big week coming. Good luck.
Posted by KEVIN DALLAS | Sep. 16 at 04:00 AM
Because of finding out about the BAL-HOU postponement late Sunday morning, the fact that I had already used two purchases to buy Turner and Chris Johnson, and because of no salary cap room to just exchange for Andre Johnson, I had to make two switches. I started Boldin and Houshmandzadeh for Edwards and Andre Johnson. It wasn't a disaster as I feared since Boldin had an outstanding game. Justin, I don't know how to figure my results. Week 1, I was 9th in my league and just stats for week 2, I was 13th in my league, but somehow after two weeks, I am 7th in my league. Don't know how to figure out that one.
Posted by michael rivera | Sep. 16 at 10:57 AM
K Dallas- add up your total rush yards for the two weeks. If you have the most in your league you get 25 points. If you have the most in divison you would get 250 points for rush yards. Now do the same for all eight catagories.
Posted by KEVIN DALLAS | Sep. 16 at 06:35 PM
Sorry, I guess I wasn't clear. I understand the way the rotisserie scoring works, but it doesn't make sense that for me to be 9th in my league during week 1, 13th in my league for just week 2 and then for both weeks combined to be 7th. I've never seen that happen before with one of my teams.
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