I recently penned a player profile of Devin Hester for Fantasy Football Champs so wanted to post the link here. Hopefully the addition of Cutler makes Hester and the rest of the mediocre Bears receivers a little better rather than that group making Cutler worse.

http://www.fantasyfootballchamps.com/members/index.cfm?page=topstory&id=2870

Well, I didn’t do a ton of fantasy football observing this weekend with the exception of heavy observation of the Bears vs. Vikings game from high above Soldier Field in the 400 sections, row 29. Despite the lack of oxygen that high up, the view was gorgeous (of the game and the lake) and the contest was a blast as the Bears pulled out a game that beat the over/under well before halftime.

Coming straight out of the “when it rains, it pours” category, the two teams of mine that featured first-round Tom Brady picks suffered another blow this week when Reggie Bush went down for 2-4 weeks. Bush was my second round picks in both leagues. Funny enough, both of those squads won this weekend and remain in playoff contention. I went 3-2 for the weekend, putting my overall record at 20-15 with league records ranging from 6-1 to 2-5. Looking at the makeup of my rosters, I’m beginning to think it will be guys like Michael Pittman and Vincent Jackson that wind up making or breaking my seasons. Any sort of Terrell Owens sighting would also be nice.

I’ll have many more insights next week after watching multiple games from my couch rather than one game from the stratosphere. Still, if I had the option I would choose stratosphere 10 times out of 10.

I’ll have my updated spreadsheet that I unveiled last week posted through last week’s game probably sometime Wednesday, but Thursday at the latest. I’ll also re-post the scoring rules with it so that you all know where the points are coming from.

Wow, what a Week 6! The Giants, Redskins and Cowboys all go down in upset fashion, the Bears blow their third fourth-quarter lead of the season in an unfathomable way, and I lost a fantasy game by .19 points when my quarterback and defense combined for -1.92 points. But, at least I’ve got two 5-1 teams sitting in first place at the present moment, and somehow Chicago is tied for first in the NFC North despite injuries and inconsistency on defense. Now for the fantasy stuff…

 

Aaron Rodgers has three 1-yard touchdown runs this season. Ryan Grant has zero. In fact, Grant has yet to score a touchdown through six games, a disturbing trend considering where Grant fell in fantasy drafts. If Rodgers is going to be punching in touchdowns from the goal-line with a separated shoulder, there’s pretty much nothing to keep him from doing so as long as he’s upright. Meanwhile, owners can be happy about the 173 yards Grant has racked up the last two weeks, but I’m concerned about his yards per carry. Since going for 7.7 yards per jaunt in Week 1, Grant has averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. So unless he’s going to get 33 carries each game like he did against the Seahawks – which will run him into the ground by Week 10, by the way – Grant is simply not going to have fantasy value unless for some reason Mike McCarthy starts calling his number by the goal line. And after playing the Colts next week he’s got a bye, then at Tennessee and at Minnesota before a home game against Chicago. So pretty much expect to go without Grant for the next month.

 

Staying in the NFC North, Bernard Berrian has absolutely become an every-week starter. He’s averaged 99.5 yards per game in his last four, has 16 catches in his last three, and two touchdowns in his last two games. Bobby Wade is getting more looks from Gus Frerrote – making him a useful third receiver in deep PPR leagues, by the way (6.3 catches for 70 yards per game in his last three) – but Berrian is a guy that is hot right now and has a great chance of lighting up the secondary of his former team in Chicago next week.

 

Were you able to buy low on Andre Johnson after four weeks? If not, your window has slammed shut after 19 catches for 309 yards and two touchdowns in a two-week stretch. Yikes!

 

Meanwhile, your time to sell Eddie Royal high has come and gone. Not only was he hurt last week, but Darrell Jackson is now back and Brandon Stokley has 16 catches and two touchdowns the last three weeks. Jay Cutler’s suddenly got a lot of mouths to feed, meaning Royal is going to be inconsistent for fantasy owners from here on out unless injuries happen elsewhere.

 

T.J. Houshmandzadeh owners NOT in PPR leagues have reason to worry. Sure, PPR owners are likely to see production drop as well, but at least Ryan Fitzpatrick has Housh on his radar. There is talk of Carson Palmer possibly needing surgery on his elbow, which would leave Fitzpatrick under center the rest of the season. Housh has 13 catches for 99 yards in the two games Fitzpatrick has played this season, but no touchdowns in either. Needless to say, he’s probably not going to perform up to his second- or third- round potential the rest of the way is Palmer is done.

 

Did you stay away from the Tampa Bay backfield in drafts? If so, you’re likely happy at this point as Warrick Dunn and Earnest Graham continue to battle it out, with Carnell Williams not far away from joining the fight. Graham has just 70 rushing yards the last two weeks, but he also has 68 receiving and a touchdown. Dunn, meanwhile, hasn’t scored a touchdown in four weeks but has been the leading rusher the last two. Sure, these numbers have kept BOTH runners fantasy relevant, but its tough to say who will have the better digits each week and it will get even more murky when Cadillac is back. That’s just not a fun game to play.

Well, I didn’t get to watch quite as much football as usual this weekend because the gal and I are looking for a new house – so I spent a decent chunk of Sunday touring houses south of the river. However, the football I did see was fabulous despite Martin Grammatica choking away another game for the Saints. Oh, and my clubs combined to go 4-1 this weekend, making my Bradyless teams a combined 12-3 overall and at least tied for first place in all three leagues, while my teams with Tom Brady as my first overall pick jumped to 3-7 – and one of those squads still is leading the league in points despite being 1-4. Still in the playoff hunt!

 

Marty Booker and Reggie Wayne get the prizes for best catches of the year, and they happened to come on the same weekend. Wayne’s was a notch above Booker’s because it resulted in a touchdown. But as Y2Kai would say, it’s ‘like wow.’ Honorable mention to Donald Driver, whose touchdown reception any other week would’ve been the best catch of the weekend.

 

The Panthers’ run defense continuous to be phenomenal to the point where I’m likely benching any runner against them not named Tomlinson, Peterson, Addai, Westbrook or Barber – and even with those guys I wouldn’t be convinced a decent fantasy day was coming.

 

There’s not much to say about Reggie Bush other than, ‘wow, that guy is fast.’ Everyone was on the Pierre Thomas bandwagon this preseason, and for once I played a hunch that turned out to be right by sticking with Bush in anticipation of a big year. I wish I could’ve landed him in more than 40 percent of my leagues.

 

How about those first-place Bears? A victory over the Lions should really only count as a half-win these days, so I’m staying cautiously optimistic. But I could’ve sworn I saw a legitimate quarterback playing for Chicago for the second straight week, so keep an eye on Kyle Orton. I can’t believe I just wrote that. But it’s true! I haven’t picked him up yet, but with Matt Schaub on the precipice of being benched, I could wind up an Orton owner in multiple leagues.

 

Speaking of Schaub, though, I’m hoping that Sage Rosenfels’ fourth-quarter follies were enough to get Schaub another chance, and I’m hoping that what Rosenfels did in the first three quarters was enough to light a fire under Schaub to get him playing up to his ability. But for Schaub owners out there who want to rely on the Texans’ passing game and have the roster space, I’d grab Rosenfels now while you still can.

Week 1 Fantasy Highlights

September 10, 2008

For the first time in four years, I spent the opening Sunday of the NFL season watching games from the comfort of my couch. It was just as glorious as I remembered.

 

I still had my computer close by, though, obviously keeping track of my fantasy squads (I’m down to five from six last year, but that’s still entirely too many) and my pick ’em selections. I’d prefer not to get into my individual teams much more than to say I only selected Tom Brady in the first round in two of my five leagues, so my year isn’t completely f#@*ed, but trading up in one league to get him digs the knife a bit deeper.

 

But I digress, here are some of the fantasy highlights that stuck out to me the most…

 

Donovan McNabb looked plenty good, and double points for doing it with his top two receivers on the sidelines. However, Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown aren’t exactly Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, and the rest of the Eagles receivers fall in line at least above average competency. Then there’s the part about the Eagles playing at home against a Rams team that I thought would be fighting for next year’s No. 1 pick before I witnessed them shredded into Philly Cheesesteak. So, before the Eagles apologists and McNabb backers get too giddy, let me remind you that McNabb last played 16 games in 2003 and has only thrown more than 20 touchdown passes in a season three times since becoming a starter in 1999. His career-high of 31 came courtesy of Terrell Owens, with his other high-water mark a respectable 25 TDs. McNabb shouldn’t have a problem hitting 3,500 yards if he can play a full-slate, which I certainly wouldn’t bank on, but don’t kid yourself into thinking he’s going to surpass, or even reach, the 20-touchdown mark.

 

Eddie Royal certainly opened some eyes with his 9-catch, 146-yard and one-touchdown performance against what has been a stout pass defense the last couple of years. As an owner of the rookie in a few leagues, I was certainly pleased with the results. However, I picked up Royal in those leagues with the sole intention of selling high to a knee-jerk owner. Brandon Marshall will be back next week, and Marshall was fifth in the NFL in receptions and sixth in receiving yards last season. And this is a guy who has only been playing the position for a few years. In other words, Royal just had what will likely turn out to be his best game of the season, so don’t rely on him as anything more than a No. 3 receiver.

 

Michael Turner busted out in a big way for an offense that I didn’t expect to have much pop this season in Atlanta. Tougher defensive tests certainly await, as do road games, but on first glance I wish I would’ve stuck to my guns on my cheat sheet and taken Turner over Jamal Lewis in the two leagues I flip-flopped last minute. I knew the guy had talent, but if Matt Ryan can simply be Kyle Orton-esque, Turner could be in for a big year.

 

Speaking of the Bears, I had Chicago’s defense penciled in at No. 1 when the preseason began because it is virtually the same unit as 2006 with everyone healthy. The final preseason games gave me pause, and I have to admit, my faith was shaken. But the same reasons I trusted them to bounce back are the same reasons I’m now confident that their undressing of the Colts on Monday night wasn’t a fluke. Yes, Peyton Manning wasn’t at 100 percent and Chicago benefited from it, but this could very easily turn out to be the best fantasy defense in the league.

 

I’ll check in after every week with some fantasy analysis of what stuck out to me the most. I’ll also have broken down weekly rankings in some capacity soon, although probably not for Week 2. My bad…

With fantasy football season around the corner, I’m getting back on the horse when it comes to fantasy sports writing. I didn’t do much baseball as I emotionally recovered from the decision of my employer to go with mostly crappy writers, but couldn’t keep my hand out of the cookie jar now that football season is about to begin.

 

Non-subscribers may not be able to view this story, but check out the stock watch story I did a couple of weeks ago for FF Champs here.

 

I also wrote team previews for the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles (soon to be published). I’m pretty sure you need a membership to get at both of those.

 

In other news, I’m close to having my cheat sheets crafted. And although the only people to check this blog frequently also are in fantasy leagues with me, I’ll still post it when I’m finally done. I’m hoping that will be by the end of the week.