Week 3 Fantasy Football Notes

September 23, 2008

With Week 3 now in the bank, we can now begin drawing a few conclusions based on some early trends. The big conclusion one fantasy league has caused me to draw is to trust my brain, not my gut. Despite having Michael Turner ranked higher than Jamal Lewis and Philip Rivers ranked higher than Matt Schaub, I ended up with Lewis and Schaub on my squad when the other player was still on the board at the time. So, I guess the lesson there is to trust your work when you actually take the time to do it rather than make rash decisions based more on perceived value of players by the masses. But, at least Schaub is on my bench with Jay Cutler tearing it up. I can’t say the same for my RB situation…


The biggest trends I like to look at involved defenses – who is giving up what to who. Let’s take a look at a handful of defenses and see what conclusions we can draw:


I’ll start with Buffalo. The surprising Bills are 3-0 and a legit contender in the AFC East. Part of the reason for this success lies on the defensive side of the football. Buffalo has given up just one touchdown to a running back this season and feature backs are averaging less than 50 yards per game on the ground through three games. The passing defense has also been good, giving up just a hair over 170 yards per game and only two scores in three contests. However, I’m more sold on the run ‘D’ than the pass ‘D.’ Seattle has proven its ability to run the ball the last two weeks with Julius Jones (I definitely didn’t see that coming), Oakland can pretty much ONLY run the ball, and Jacksonville’s got arguably the best one-two running back punch in the game. Its to the point now where if I’ve got a borderline starter – Edgerrin James in Week 5, for example, he’s not getting in my lineup. The jury is still out on the pass, though. JaMarcus Russell is awful so far, and Matt Hasselbeck had just Nate Burleson to throw to in Week 1. Plus Jacksonville’s not exactly an aerial assault waiting to happen.


On the other end of the spectrum, I’m starting anyone and everyone against the Lions. A non-feature back has scored in all three games thus far, and Detroit has ceded six rushing touchdowns overall. That’s not to mention the 123+ yards per game feature backs are averaging against the Lions. Matt Forte owners should be licking their chops for Week 5…


As for pass defenses, Tennessee has been the cream of the crop thus far with just one touchdown pass allowed and seven interceptions. The talent the Titans have faced at quarterback can be questioned some, but besides a couple of meetings with a hobbled Peyton Manning, old Brett Favre, new Aaron Rodgers and ordinary Derek Anderson, Tennessee simply doesn’t face much that they can’t handle. In short, this team will continue to be a fantasy force that can score points any week.


The Colts fall into the mirage end of this equation, giving up just 149 passing yards per game without a touchdown allowed through three weeks. But I’m not giving Indy a ton of credit for shutting down Kyle Orton and Tarvaris Jackson. David Garrard is a little better, but the Jags were simply too good on the ground in this one. If the Colts continue to put up good numbers against the pass, its only because they are having so much trouble against the run that no one even tries to pass. I expect Schaub, Rodgers, Kerry Collins, Ben Roethlisberger, Rivers, et al to have a bit more success in the coming weeks.


An under-the-radar iffy pass defense resides in Denver, where the Broncos are giving up 326 yards and two scores per game through three weeks despite being undefeated. Those numbers would be even more inflated if not for the Raiders being included among Denver’s three opponents. Tyler Thigpen likely won’t do much next week, but after that you could probably use Brian Griese, Garrard or even Matt Cassell in the coming weeks as emergency starters should you need one.


That’s enough defense for now, I feel like ragging on the Lions. Jon Kitna is getting progressively worse, and Roy Williams has yet to be good. Sure, he caught a touchdown pass in Week 1, but there is plenty to be worried about here. Roy is catching fewer than three balls per game and has yet to hit the 50-yard mark while Calvin Johnson is emerging as the top target in Detroit. Williams has been a must-start receiver the last few years, but if Roy doesn’t do something against Chicago and Minnesota out of the bye week, he’s simply no longer on that list. 


March 5, 2008

– I suppose I’ll start with the Brett Favre news. I’m proud to say that despite a phone call from my mother, two e-mailed story links and unlimited access to the internet and radio today, I managed to avoid reading a single story about Favre retiring. The man is a fantastic football player, a sure-fire Hall of Famer and for many years was the bane of my existence as a Bears fan. Still, I couldn’t help to be impressed with many of the things he accomplished on the football field. But I also know how insane the world of sports journalism is these days and how over the top everything gets. So I’m proud to say I avoided all of the vomit-inducing, rainbow and lollipop, brown-nosing, kiss-ass writing that I’m sure was out there today. Hi-five to me!

– I had two job interviews today. Another hi-five to me! This job-searching stuff has been mostly responsible for keeping me from mass blogging. My apologies if it has upset you. I’m 100 percent certain that no one noticed.

– Last week (or maybe the week before) the Wolves bought out Theo Ratliff‘s contract so that he could then go sign with the Detroit Pistons. I cared little. Then the Clippers bought out the contract of Sam Cassell and he became a Celtic immediately upon clearing waivers.  For some reason, I was pissed.

That’s not to say I’m anti-Boston, although sometimes I feel like I might be. But really, I would like to see Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen earn championship rings. Perhaps adding Cassell (and P.J. Brown, in case anyone missed that) is the final piece necessary in order to conquer the NBA Finals in August or whenever the hell they happen these days. And I’m certainly not anti-Cassell. In fact, he, Shaquille O’Neal and Reggie Miller are the only three NBA players whose replica jerseys have at some time hung in my closet. I guess my issue here is that I don’t agree with veterans getting to complain about where they are at in order to go somewhere with a better chance at winning. As professionals, shouldn’t they honor their inflated contracts? Thing is, its not really their fault. As long as the contract buyout process remains as is, things will probably get worse. How about this — any player whose contract isn’t bought out. Late-season arms races would then become impossible, making teams use the pieces they started with to make a final push. This is even more feasible now with the NBA D-League, as teams that suffer injury troubles have a larger talent pool. Sure, there aren’t any D-League point guards who can help out a squad the way Cassell can, but at least these players can develop in a system and fill in seamlessly when necessary.