Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Hangover: 9-22-2008

Fantasy football heartbreak is so much worse than actual football heartbreak. Think about it; at least in actual football, there’s usually hope going into the fourth quarter that your team, behind as they may be, can pull one out with a big comeback. In fantasy football, however, that lopsided game determined the fate of just about every fantasy player involved well before that point. Case in point, the Cleveland Browns, who are disappointing everyone except for their coach, Romeo Crenel (who will be disappointed as soon as he comes out of that functional coma he’s been in for years), we down 10-21 with 25 minutes left to play. On that team, pretty much everyone who owns Jamal Lewis knows they’re completely screwed. Every desperate pass downfield to catch up is another stab in the heart to those who put their trust in Lewis (perhaps, “shank in the side” is more appropriate?). Worse still are the games where you know you’re screwed even though the situation and time left say that you’ve still got hope. I guarantee you every single Calvin Johnson owner watching that blowout against the 49ers knew that there was no way the Lions would put together the deep play to Johnson it so desperately needed (with that line, any play requires more than two seconds to develop is an automatic candidate to become NFL Films first snuff film). So if this past Sunday saw your team wallow in inevitable mediocrity (or worse, in “being the Rams”-ness), take heart, it could be much, much worse.

The Hangover…

• I’m making the prediction right now that Kansas City fulfills our schadenfreude based fantasies and goes 0-16 for the year. Looking at their schedule, I defy you to find one game against a beatable team. Worse still, the team ends its season against two teams that will likely be playing for either pride or a wild card playoff spot (Miami and Cincinnati). Tyler Thigpen is somehow bizarrely worse than Brodie Croyle, who is the worst starting QB in the league. Larry Johnson has had one good game against a shaky run defense in Atlanta, and the same is true of Dwayne Bowe. I’m a firm believer in this team’s past draft, but I also think that because Glenn Dorsey looks like he’ll need at least a year to develop, the Chiefs are going to get scored on, and the offense just doesn’t have the scheme or the line in place to keep up. If they can’t keep up with Oakland in their next meeting, the 1976 Bucs may need to refrain from toasting their annual case of PBR anytime soon…

• So do we like Michael Turner or not? Against mediocre to bad defenses, he’s put on a clinic, but then again so has backup Jerious Norwood. On the other hand, the Bucs held him to a rather paltry 42 yards. Week 4 figures to be a big one, because the Panthers are a divisional rival with a solid defense. If Matt Ryan can keep from turning the ball over in the passing game, it will be up to Turner to control the pace of the game in the Falcons favor, particularly against a similarly inclined Panthers team. Up to this point, the Burner is averaging 6.2 a carry, so it’s hard to ask for much more, but he’ll need to have a breakout game against an important opponent before we can buy into his high hopes.

• The Lane Kiffin firing rumors continue, with some saying he could be let go today. If he does, it will be the most egregious in a three year span of egregiously bad decisions by the Raiders front office. Say what you will, but it’s pretty clear at this point that Kiffin is not in control of the side of the ball that has been holding this team back, specifically the defense. Worse still, owner Al Davis keeps Kiffin uninvolved on that side of the ball because of his deference to Rob Ryan, who would be in line to take Kiffin’s job if the firing occurs. The problem is that it was Kiffin’s offense that spurred the stomping of the Chiefs in week two, and it was Kiffin’s development of quarterback Jamarcus Russell that had the team within a field goal of beating a great Bills squad (that 84 yard TD pass was beautiful). In fact, it was Rob Ryan’s defense that couldn’t slow down a desperate Bills pass offense in crunch time. I’m not saying Kiffin shouldn’t be blamed for a lot of the team’s struggles, but firing him without giving him time to develop an offense that’s finally showing signs of life is just more Al Davis senility at work. That man has to be some horrible Twilight Zone style twist on a wish for immortality, right?

• Any team that allows Brian Griese to throw 67 passes over the course of a game and relies on professional rapist who plays football on the side Jerramy Stevens to win shouldn’t leave the field without fans chasing them with pitchforks and torches, let alone leaving victoriously over a talented, if inconsistent, Bears squad.

• If you’re the Panthers, you’re not scared that you lost to the Vikings, a good team whose defense is finding it’s footing and installed a new, more consistent pass attack within the week. You’re scared that Steve Smith came back, looked good, got involved with the offense, and you STILL lost. Furthermore, this offensive line got debacled (an Emmitt Smith word that is the only adequate descriptor) when it let Antoine Winfield demolish Jake Delhomme from the blind side. That’s the kind of play that will keep long routes, Steve Smith’s bread and butter, from developing. If Delhomme looks gun shy next week, remember that hit.

• Cool it, everybody. Gus Frerotte had one really good pass. Granted, that still puts him ahead of Tarvaris Jackson at the moment, who not only can’t squeeze passes into tight windows, but can’t even get them through the storefront display variety.

• If the Jets start out 1-2, we’re all going to wonder whether or not getting rid of Handsome Chad (17/20, 226 yards) was the right call. It’s not that I don’t think Favre is better, but I don’t know that this coaching staff has figured out how to use him.

• By the way, that Miami offense was as creative as any offense I’ve seen since we started this blog. You’ve got a primarily run based offense, with two great backs, so why not create some plays that run from a direct snap scheme? That said, I could do without Pennington lining up at WR. That could be the worst bluff of all time. The first corner to bite on him going downfield (or worse, get burned on a trick play) should never be allowed to wear football cleats again.

• By contrast, how one-dimensional must the Patriots offense be for Matt Cassel to be throwing 31 passes. He didn’t look good (19/31, 131 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), but blaming it on him fails to account for the awfulness of a running back committee that only got 49 yards on 15 carries. Oh, and at 4 catches for 25 yards, what’s the over/under on weeks until Randy Moss decides he’s not quite happy enough with the Matt Cassel Pats to play hard anymore?

• Also, and I’m throwing this out there now as a recurring theme for the year, why is nobody even kicking the tires on an Alex Smith trade? Here’s a very intelligent quarterback who was ruined by a dumb coach with an even dumber penchant for changing offensive coordinators. Meanwhile, Smith is young enough that he can still greatly improve, smart enough to adapt to a variety of offenses, and should come cheap enough to justify making him a project player. For a team with an established quarterback that is starting to show potential wear and tear (Pats, Colts, Jets) or those with no clear solutions yet under center (Vikings, Bears, Chiefs), this just seems like a no brainer.

• Chad Johnson (Ochocinco?) is officially what is holding back the CIncy offense. Housh was outstanding taking advantage of the liberal coverage he receives across from Johnson, but that doesn’t mean that Chad shouldn’t break downfield for at least one or two big catches. Wasting Carson Palmer’s good days (which come fewer and farther between) like this is going to be what ruins his prime. Also, Chris Perry averaged 3.7 YPC on 20 carries. Why do they even keep Kenny Watson around if they’re so committed to mediocrity on the ground?

• I officially buy the Tennessee Titans. Three weeks in, against a variety of opponents with different strengths, the team has controlled the pace of the game and the style with which they intend to play. Kerry Collins is unspectacular, which is better suited for this team than VY’s bouts of spectacular terribleness. Meanwhile, Chris Johnson and Lendale White are shaping up to be exactly the speed/power (or perhaps more fittingly and frustratingly for fantasy owners, “anywhere but the goal line/goal line”) tandem that Fisher wants. The team plays two games against team that they haven’t proven they should beat (three if you count Minnesota), and Collins has been given the freedom to develop chemistry with the receiving game at his own pace. Hell, the receivers probably love that, because when Collins gets drunk, he probably just goes on rants about how sick he used to be, as opposed to VY, who totally seems like a depressing drunk.

• Also, and I fully understand that this is a weird week to use as a litmus test, but is Matt Schaub proving to be a terrible investment? He showed absolutely no rhythm or chemistry with his passers against a defense that, while great, shouldn’t be so difficult to pass against. Also, I might have to go punch him in his incredibly swollen jaw if he doesn’t get Andre Johnson scoring me some fantasy points.

• I’d make jokes about how the Detroit offense showed some real signs of turning it around when Jon Kitna left with an injury, but I don’t want to get struck by lightning.

• Also, given the state of that offensive line, the real miracle that Kitna has been praying for may have already happened with him not being in a coma…because those Detroit fans are pushing to get that plug pulled ASAP.

• Seriously, the Lions are awful and could wind up 0-16, and since they don’t play the Chiefs, we might have two in one year. Those two Bears games are the only thing keeping me from picking them as the favorite to do so over KC.

• Is the Irish Carbomb JT O’Sullivan (Dollar drafts on weekends!) really that much better than Alex Smith? I’m asking that in all seriousness. He hasn’t gotten Vernon Davis any more involved than Smith did, but he clearly has the better downfield arm (expected) and makes fewer mistakes (WHAAA????) than Smith. Considering their record is now even with the Cards, and that they’ll see an equally tough strength of schedule, is it crazy to think this team wins the division at 7-9 thanks to ugly squeakers against divisional opponents?

• If Julius Jones isn’t f**cking with your fantasy football world, then you’re in a different league than mine. Seriously, it’s not right that just because of his schedule, people who own him because they blew a high pick on a consistent disappointment get to act like geniuses. Who could have possibly seen the NFC West being Julius Jones bad?

• Oh, and don’t look now, but an injured Hassy went 12/20 with a TD and distributed the ball to seven different receivers. Bald QBs are still sexy in the northwest.

• Also, having spent a weekend in Seattle, I can honestly say that the people there are so nice it’s creepy. Don’t they understand that as fellow human beings it’s their job to mistrust me? Even the bums were generally amiable. This is what results from such close proximity to Canada, I suppose.

• Reggie Bush’s best season is going to go completely unnoticed thanks to a Saints defense that is one game away from getting the Detroit quotes around it. 151 yard of total offense with 11 receptions and 2 TDs is exactly what they drafted him to do.

• They keep talking about how hard Jay Cutler worked to put weight back on while recovering from diabetes, but I don’t see how that’s a good thing for him. From the look of the kid, it was all face fat.

• There was not a worse game for fantasy owners than Philly/Pittsburgh. Just disgusting work on both teams.

• Panic button time in Indy? Addai played a solid game, and the receivers were doing good work on all three levels, but Manning looked very, very shaky for the entire first half of the game. I’m definitely willing to concede that Manning will improve a lot before the end of the season, but these kind of winnable games against divisional opponents are the ones that stack up in a wild card race. Also, how many years in a row can a team be terrible against the run before somebody decides to make a personnel move to fix the problem? The middle of Jacksonville’s offensive line consists of various potted plants, and both Taylor and MJD were able to run for over 100 yards. It was like watching them run Madden practice drills, except I’d rather have virtual holograms defending the run than Indy’s defense.

• Also, what’s gotten into David Garrard? Three weeks, four interceptions? Jerry Porter needs to come back, and the team can’t afford to give up on Troy Williamson yet if they want to regain their elite expectations.

• So was losing one defensive tackle the Jenga block that sent the Packers tower tumbling? Marion Barber and Felix Jones had their way with a defense that was supposed to be as tough to run on as any in the league. Equally scary for Packers fans has to be the team’s complete inability to control the tempo of the game, with only 16 rush attempts by running backs, even though the game was very much in reach during the first half. The fact that the defense, which was supposed to be the sure thing on this team, is letting games get out of hand against top competition is a very, very bad thing for the Packers.

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