Wednesday, September 21, 2011

THE "FREAKS" - NFL WEEK 2

They happen every year.


It happened to Jamal Lewis and launched Priest Holmes.

It happened to Drew Bledsoe and it borne Tom Brady.

It happened to Priest Holmes and gave us Larry Johnson.

It happened to Owen Daniels and made Joel Dreesen fantasy relevant.

Every year it happens. Every year it's a mini-disaster for one fantasy football team.  This year, it's Jamaal Charles.  Will Thomas Jones give us one last gasp at greatness, or will the dimunitive scat back/wideout Dexter McCluster prove he can handle 15-plus carries per game.  My bet is on Jones initially getting a large does of carries, but eventually falling back to the red zone back, while McCluster and a mixture of LeRon McLain take over.  McCluster is the playmaker of the three, but it's hard to overlook McLain's role after he filled in admirably for a wounded Willis McGahee during Ray Rice's rookie campaign and averaged 3.9 per carry on 232 carries.  Basically this backfield is a mess, but you want McCluster, particularly in PPR leagues.  The Chiefs lack depth at all the offensive skill positions, and though you'll see an occasional fill-in from Jackie Battle, he's not much more than a pass blocker.

The other team that is on the tops the list of the decimated are the New York Giants.  I feel for the fans, but even more for Eli Manning.  Manning's going to be booed and ripped by a fan base that isn't taking into account the long odds this team now faces to even put together a winning season.  They lost Osi Umeniyora and Jonathan Goff early.  Down went Justin Tuck, who is still recovering from a neck stinger but playing.  No need to emphasize how difficult or scary the neck is -- see one Peyton Manning for reference.  Hakeem Nicks' knee swelled up after his game Week 1.  Mario Manningham was concussed in Week 2.  Domenik Hixon has torn his ACL in the same leg for the second year in a row.  Did Tom Coughlin walk under a ladder after hitting a black cat that crossed his path? 

Besides the injuries, I was incredibly disappointed in the Giants inability to run against an improved, albeit overrated St. Louis defense.  This should have been a pretty easy game for the Giants to secure, and it wasn't, no matter what the scoreboard shows. St. Louis is their own worst nightmare, and they have hardly anyone that can be counted on to make a big play. 

I had both Ahmad Bradshaw and Cadillac Williams to play come Monday Night down nine points to my opponent in my NFP league.  My foe had Josh Brown for St. Louis.  Brown nearly outscored both of them.  Just sad.  The Giants have a big match-up against the Eagles in Week 3, and I'd be concerned with the injuries to the Giants' receivers, that Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs find themselves the focus of this Eagles defense.  I don't expect high value from them this week.

MORE OBSERVATIONS FROM WEEK 2
You want to know why you can't simply bail on a running back when they turn 30?  I give you one Fred Jackson, perhaps playing the best football of his career behind a rejuvenated Bills offensive line.  Jackson added 15 carries to his tally and managed 7.8 yards per against the Oakland front seven.  Either Oakland  is terrible on defense, or the Bills have found stability and strength up front.  It appears to be the latter, as Ryan Fitzpatrick has been sacked just once this season.  Last season at this time, Trent Edwards had been downed seven times.  Now, part of this changed is to be owed to Fitzpatrick, who has some mobility.  However, this group of mostly three-year vets, has gelled enough to complement Chan Gailey's scheme such that they dropped 79 points on two defenses in two weeks.

I'm still not sold on the Steelers being a veritable champion.  They can't run the football well, as Rashard Mendenhall's 3.6 yards per attempt illustrates.  Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked six times, and was hit a whole lot others, including a shot to his knee this past weekend.  The Steelers have been part of two incredibly lopsided games - one against a division rival, the other against a NFC West foe who hardly fits the bill of contender.  Until they can impose their will in the trenches against a stalwart opponent, I remain steadfast in my opinion that Rashard Mendenhall will be a disappointment this year.  He should get 1000 yards but I'm thinking just barely, especially if Isaac Redman continues to run through, over and by people. 

I think the Indy defense misses Bob Sanders.  Not that he was ever healthy for them, but he definitely made a difference when he was.  It seems that they can't stop anyone, having ceded 167 yards against Houston, and then 106 to Cleveland.  It's like anyone can run on the Colts.  Great chance for the Steelers to prove me wrong comes Sunday night at Indy.

There was a buzz in training camp about Denarius Moore if you were reading, or even talking to Raiders fans.  By the end of pre-season it was more of a rumor, and now it's just plain gossip.  If you haven't grabbed Moore, someone else has after his sick five-reception-146-yard-with-a-touchdown day.  I don't know if you were reading or listening to me in the last couple of years where I pimped Jason Campbell and the fact that his numbers had improved every year despite playing under new offensive coordinators in nearly every one of them.  He's proving to be more than just a serviceable quarterback now that the Oakland front line has found a way to keep him upright, and Moore should reap the benefits.  Keep an eye on the oft-injured Chaz Schilens who appeared for the first time Sunday.  When healthy, Schilens has proven he's a solid option -- problem is he's never healthy.

I have to say Mike Kafka impressed the hell out of me Sunday night.  I mean, Vick goes out and the momentum immediately turned on Philly.  You could feel it.  Then Kafka comes out and rips off 7-9 for 72 yards including a beautiful deep ball to Jeremy Maclin, and I'm thinking Philly's going to pull it out.  If it hadn't been for Maclin dropping a fourth down pass that only hit him in the hands, well, Philly wins this game.  It's hard to step in as a backup and anticipate what the receivers will do, as well as picking up the pace of the game.  Kafka not only showed confidence, he showed decisiveness, and they were all pretty good decisions.  If Vick is out, Kafka may have a field day against a Giants secondary that has given up 8.0 per attempt and 566 yards in two games.

Is anyone else as puzzled by what happened to Baltimore when they visited Tennessee?  I wrote last week that the Ravens complete domination of the Steelers may have been the best game of football I've ever seen them play.  Problem was it was Week 1, and you never want to have a great game in Week 1.  Where do you improve from there?  Well, Kenny Britt single-handedly ate the Birds' secondary, catching nine of 13 balls for 137 yards and a score.  Meanwhile, Baltimore managed just two rushing first downs, finished 3-for-10 on third down conversions and turned the ball over three times.  Courtland Finnegan has three passes defensed for the Titan defensed and four tackles.  Perhaps he's rounding back into shape as the Pro Bowl corner we once knew. 

A 32-3 thrashing by the Jets was all Jack Del Rio needed to hand Blaine Gabbert the reins.  I think Carolina becomes an interesting defense this week.  They're not exactly slowing down runners but knowing that this rookie is entering sooner than the Jags would have liked (they are 1-1 you know), expect Carolina to fill the box and dare Blaine to beat them.

I'll hope to have some previews coming this weekend and my Top 5 for Week 3.