Challenge Contests — by Justin Eleff
At the Quarter Post
Posted Oct. 09 at 04:45 AM
The whole league is through four (or more) games now -- what do we know today that we didn't know a month ago?
With Anquan Boldin hurt again and Kurt Warner not, Larry Fitzgerald is looking at a career year. 100 catches, 1,500 yards, 15 TDs.
Michael Turner is playable in nearly every home game. On the road it's no against good defenses (42 yards on 3.0 per carry at TB, 56 on 3.1 at CAR), yes against bad ones (121 on 4.7 at GB).
It wasn't just the knee for Willis McGahee; he's hopelessly out of shape. Which rules out the whole offense for challenge purposes, literally every man.
Kind of the surprise opposite of BAL; when Trent Edwards is right the whole offense works, not just RB Marshawn Lynch. The unconcussed Edwards looks viable as a cheapo alternative to J.T. O'Sullivan if Aaron Rodgers hurts himself for real next time.
Steve Smith is great. We knew that already, but sometimes it's harder to remember when a player will miss the first game or two of the season. Odds are very good that Smith and Brandon Marshall both finish top-5 among WRs despite their M.I.A. beginnings.
Matt Forte is the revelation of the early season. Ian Allan, once again, told us so.
Nothing we didn't already know. It's a disaster, and it's getting worse.
Braylon Edwards has one hope to salvage what was supposed to be his coronation season, and that hope is Brady Quinn. Yikes.
Jason Witten has been worth every penny of his challenge salaries, which is tough to accomplish at the top end of the TE lists. T.O. goes up and down, on the field and off, and Witten catches 6, 7, 7, 7 and 8 balls in Weeks 1-5.
Still like (and dislike) the same players I did at the beginning of the year, so nothing new. Yet. Given the failure of any RB to assert himself, Ryan Torain looms as a possible second-half sensation.
On the field, nothing has changed. They can pass (most weeks), can't run. Off the field, Matt Millen is gone and suddenly there are Detroit Lions fans. Who knew?
Greg Jennings gets better and better. If Aaron Rodgers' shoulder holds up, Jennings finishes top-5 at the position with Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Brandon Marshall and either T.O. or Reggie Wayne.
The Texans are maybe serious about featuring Steve Slaton, and he has enough giddy-up to fill in for Chris Johnson if you hate TEN's matchup in a given week. Should boost the rushing average if nothing else.
Nothing new, but something old: Peyton Manning is about to reassert himself as the league's best QB. It's the kind of hunch -- not so much suspicion as certainty -- I wish I could afford to play.
They are who we thought they were. Easily the boringest of the genuine contenders.
Sure surprised DEN two weeks ago. So maybe they go 3-13 instead of 2-14.
Sure surprised NE, then SD. So maybe they go 6-10 instead of 4-12.
Adrian Peterson has played through a leg injury for three weeks now. Home against stone-solid Carolina, 77 yards. At Albert Haynesworth and a rabid Titans D, 80 yards -- that made a two-week pace for 1,250 yards. So Bryant McKinnie returns from suspension and the Vikes visit the shaky Saints? I spent an hour last weekend trying to squeeze in A.P.'s salary and finally had to give up ... on what turned out to be 21 carries for 32 yards. I know nothing, and -- in this instance -- happily so.
I'm still not sure a lost year for Tom Brady isn't a lost year for Randy Moss too. Matt Cassel can play a little, but his deep ball isn't great and the coaching staff isn't using it often; Moss the Patriot has run under the ball more than he's run with it. Bad news for me so far; the way things fell in my office league, I had to take Moss in Round 1.
(If you're curious, Moss 1, Drew Brees 2, Calvin Johnson 3, Brandon Jacobs 4, LenDale White 5, Matt Forte and Chris Johnson shortly thereafter. I filled in with Aaron Rodgers at QB, Lee Evans at WR, Zach Miller, Nate Kaeding, the TB defense. Would have been better with Brady healthy, but I'm leading the league in points and I haven't gotten the hang of shuffling Jacobs, Johnson and Forte just yet.)
I'm off of Reggie Bush forever. Maybe he is the second-best punt returner in the league. He's not an option at RB except in points games, and there it's for his receiving yards.
The Giants can absorb an injury to any RB or WR without a dropoff. That makes them a potentially great team in real life and for our purposes -- we just need one of those injuries to make a brand new star of Derrick Ward or Ahmad Bradshaw or Domenik Hixon or Steve Smith.
Dustin Keller is coming as a viable-to-indispensable challenge play.
From Al Davis' letter to Lane Kiffin: JaMarcus Russell is a great player. We didn't know that a month ago ...
There appears to be little difference between DeSean being DeSean and Manny being Manny.
I never root for an injury, of course, but I kinda like the one to Rashard Mendenhall even so. Ben Roethlisberger throwing the ball 30 times per game can be the biggest star in the league. I'm serious. This window with Willie Parker out (or at least slowed) could change Big Ben's career.
LaDainian Tomlinson is coming as a viable-to-indispensable challenge play, even at top dollar. I want him active Weeks 8 (at NO), 10 (vs. KC), 12 (vs. IND), 13 (vs. ATL), 14 (vs. OAK), 15 (at KC) and 17 (vs. DEN) at least.
J.T. O'Sullivan was at 240.5 yards per game with a 61.3% completion rate before a lousy outing vs. NE this weekend -- and even then he threw 3 TDs. Mike Martz can indeed play princess to any frog.
The Seahawks are scoring 20.8 points per game with nearly sub-zero talent. No one gets more out of less than Mike Holmgren. Scoot him over to DET and Calvin Johnson could be the greatest receiver in history; to OAK and JaMarcus Russell could get really, really good at handing the ball to Darren McFadden.
Scott Linehan is -- how to put this? -- not a genius.
Jon Gruden isn't one, either, but these Bucs are pretty good as a whole-greater-than-its-parts team. Deep. No superstars. It certainly wouldn't be as big a shock for these Bucs to win a Super Bowl in a season with no dominant team as for those Giants to win one in a season with an otherwise undefeated team. Looking past team to one individual, I'll say this: One of my brothers and I overlapped with Earnest Graham at the University of Florida. Neither of us can believe how good a pro he's become -- decisive, tough, fast. He looks like another Emmitt Smith. That may be largely smoke and mirrors -- Gruden has kept Graham fresh for the second halves of games by leaning on Warrick Dunn early -- but, whatever, good is good.
Nothing new, but they do look good.
I've always liked Jason Campbell, and I've always told you he was coming eventually. Still coming, though; not quite here yet. The same Campbell who picks apart the Cowboys in Dallas one week lays a statistical egg in Philadelphia the next (16-of-29 for 176 yards, no TDs). The next three matchups, home against STL and CLE and at DET, may look like plums, but at least one of them will prove to be a prune -- D.C. will not win all three.
Posted by KEVIN DALLAS | Oct. 11 at 01:13 AM
Unfortunately I bought Trent Edwards last week with the uncertainty of Rodgers playing and he got to throw for 18 yards before being concussed.
Posted by KEVIN DALLAS | Oct. 11 at 01:28 AM
Also, there's a rumor floating around here in the Cincy area that Housh may be dealt to Washington. How much would that raise Campbell's stock?
Posted by KEVIN DALLAS | Oct. 11 at 01:40 AM
and also the 49ers...O'Sullivan maybe could use him, huh?
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