Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Some things people aren't talking about that they should be: 
- Do you know how hard it is to punch a wobbling football 25 yards out of the end zone.  I'll bet if Troy Polamalu tried that 10 times he'd have failed nine. 

- Sometimes having two top wide receivers actually makes things uneven offensively.  Thinking about Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, and now comparing to Tony Romo and Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.  How is the Cowboys passing offense not tearing up the NFL?

- I have to admit I still love video gaming and Arkham City is amazing.... yes, even sports people should be talking about this.

Some things people are talking about and should be:

- that if there isn't something wrong with Philip Rivers, maybe someone should have Troy Polamalu punch him.

- the Bills defense may be giving up a lot of yards. but they're now ranked 12th in points allowed with 21 per game.

- Michael Vick is expected to run at times.  It's who he is.  But Dallas was the number one rushing defense coming into Week 8, so surely the wouldn't give up 100 yards to one running back.  They didn't give up 100; they gave up 185.

Philip Rivers has always had a funky delivery.  He harkens us back to the days of Bernie Kosar, slinging the ball as much as he throws it.  However, the game this past Monday wasn't ugly from just a turnover perspective.  There were several balls that came out of Rivers' arm that looked bad.  Several wobbly ducks somehow reached their intended targets, but the one that disturbed me most occurred on their final drive of the fourth quarter.  Rivers was running from the pass rush (again), looked off some defenders so he could plant his feet and find wide open Malcom Floyd (or Patrick Crayton) standing near the sideline.  He planted and threw, yet the ball took forever to get there.  I mean, it seemed to hang in the air two to three seconds.  I was about to ask for the hang time.  He completed the pass, the drive continued, and as you know, faltered on his fumble later on.  Just speculation on my part, but things don't look good, and while Rivers was seen mouthing the words, worst day ever, it will become extensive hyperbole if he's covering up something that's wrong with his arm/shoulder.  The other big note from this game is Curtis Brinkley.  There was no mention of Ryan Mathews being injured in the final quarter.  However, he may had problems blocking, because Brinkley was almost exclusively used during crunch time and he came through in a big way.  He scored on a two yard plunge and then barely got across a tough two-point reception.  Regardless, the Brinkley story is an amazing feel-good tale about a man who came within an inch of his life when he was mistaken for someone else and shot three times in his car.  The former Syracuse RB went undrafted and still has a bullet lodged near his heart.  He played well enough that should Mike Tolbert continue to remain out, he will get more field time.

So Jason Garrett, let me introduce you to one DeMarco Murray. You know, the guy who set your franchise single game record for rushing yards last week at 253. The guy who for some reason was only given eight carries this weekend but still reeled off 84 yards for an average of nine yards per carry.  Yeah, why get him the ball?  Just what was the game plan here? Is someone trying to say that because Philadelphia scored on their first two drives that the running game was totally abandoned?  This might be one of those games you just have to chalk up to the fact that Andy Reid just wins after a Bye week (he's now 13-1).  Dallas looked flat in just about every aspect of the game.  Still, Philly's rush defense, even with the health of Darryl Tapp and Trent Cole is a sieve.  One point to note, Michael Vick decided not to share with the other team this week, his first game without a turnover all year.

Tom Brady is hoping that Lamarr Woodley left his hamstring on the field, because Brady saw more Pittsburgh pressure than he had in years.  In fact, this was the first time the Pittsburgh defense sacked Brady since their 23-20 loss at New England in September of 2005.  At Just a Bit Outside, we figured it would Bill Belichick who would unleash a new offensive idea, that of possibly running a lot more out of the spread offense in order to actually keep the ball away from the Steelers offense and tire out the defense.  Instead, it was the Steelers who unveiled a completely different game plan than we've ever seen.  Dick LeBeau instituted man press coverage for almost the entire game, and Bruce Arians gave Ben Roethlisberger a short to mid-range passing game and 50 attempts.  In only one other game in Steelers history has a Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback attempted 50 passes and won a game, and that QB was Neil O'Donnell.  Rashard Mendenhall offered just enough running capability (13 carries for 70 yards) to keep New England off balance, while Mike Wallace's streak of six straight games with a catch of 40-plus yards ended.  As predicted, Deion Branch got his share of targets and a touchdown.   Chad Ochocinco had zero catches for the game.

Andy Dalton isn't pretty, well, unless you like redheads.  Andy Dalton isn't going to light up scoreboards.  But Andy Dalton is winning and doing so with surprising efficiency.  He averaged 5.8 yards per pass attempt on Sunday, and for the season that number is 6.8.  A. J. Green continues to good for at least one long bomb per game, and he got his against the average Seattle secondary.  Charlie Whitehurst was replaced at the 10:41 of the second period after cutting the deficit to 10-3.  Marshawn Lynch continues to confound, as he managed just 1.5 yards per carry and lost a fumble.  Ben Obamanu turned four catches into a team high 107 yards, but the only receiver worth owning fantasy wise is Sidney Rice, who was targeted 14 times.  Consider Obamanu's outing an anomaly.

The story of this game was Frank Gore, but that story is getting old.  You know, 100 yards, and a score.  Gets predictable.  So let's talk about Colt McCoy who appears to be developing despite Cleveland's attempts to draft more and more weapon-less teams.  McCoy completed his 64.7 percent of his passes for an 83.1 rating.  To give you an idea of who McCoy is throwing to, the Browns' tight end Ben Watson led the team with three catches and 64 yards.  But it is Greg Little who was targeted 11 times even though he hauled in only four.  This is a relationship to monitor for fantasy purposes, as the rookie from North Carolina has 30 targets and 15 catches in the past three games.  The key factor so far is that the completions have been short underneath routes, as Sunday Little averaged seven yards per catch.  That isn't a big deal, but should that begin to grow, he could become a viable waiver wire pickup.  You don't want to wait too long for that to happen.

It's true that there are Roman catapults that take less time to crank up than Tim Tebow's arm.  However, besides one really bad pass, Tim Tebow actually played fairly well in the first half.  Denver's first drive was nearly flawless, but Eric Decker, who for some reason must have thought he didn't have to tap his second foot down like any solid receiver would, was ruled out of bounds on a perfectly thrown touchdown strike.  This in turn was followed by a penalty, and then Denver's initial field goal.  This truly could have changed the nature and outcome of this game.  Instead, the Denver defense just couldn't contain Matthew Stafford, and did Tebow no favors allowing 24 points prior to halftime.  There's no doubt the true scary part of having Tebow as your quarterback isn't a close game.  It's a game like this, where you know he's going to have to pass.  Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy did Tebow little favors, as his first half playcalling became rhythmic:  first down pass, second down run, third down pass.  The second half wasn't so pretty.  Maurice Morris continued to show why he's the guy you want in fantasy in place of Jahvid Best, not Keiland Williams.   Kudos to Dustin Colquitt, the first punter I've ever seen get a personal foul for unnecessary roughness.  At least Denver can say that. 

I'm convinced Mike Shanahan hates fantasy owners.  Either that or he's just not reading the same statistics the rest of us plebians are.  Against the 30th ranked rushing defense, Shanahan's gameplan got the Redskins running backs all of eight carries.  Donte Stallworth added another one, and John Beck ran three times.  That's a total of 12 carries for the entire game against a team that was giving up 135.7 yards per game.  Roy Helwho?  Oh ,Roy Helu didn't rush once.  Yes, Buffalo was also the 30th ranked pass defense, giving up 285 per game, but in what parallel dimension would you actually determine that John Beck should make 33 pass attempts?  Not even in Narnia.  Whether it was Beck's indecisiveness or just an incredible Bills pass rush, Buffalo got to Beck nine times.  Without Santana Moss or Chris Cooley, Fred Davis will continue to be a very valuable tight end going forward.  These are the games that make me question what Mike Shanahan is doing.  The other ones I just simply don't need to question anything--- I know he's lost it.  For Buffalo, I thought Scott Chandler would be a factor this game, and he was. 

Home.  Away.  Does it matter?  The Colts defense is rolling over like a bunch of children finishing off their snow angels, and every team is taking advantage.  The only one who saw fit to leave Indy a touch of dignity was Chris Johnson, who is too busy trying to find his own.  He was benched this game, and is officially one of the worst first round fantasy busts ever.  Usually first round busts come with some sort of injury plagued season (see Peyton Hillis for reference), but not Johnson.  He simply looks like he's suffered a Manny Ramirez post steroid haze.  Mike Munchak has announced already that Johnson is still the team's starting running back even though Javon Ringer came in behind the same offensive front and averaged 4.3 yards to Johnson's 2.4 -- there are 53 million reasons why that happened.

Is there a more frustrating fantasy RB to own than Steven Jackson?  The minute you think there's no way St. Louis will ever be able to run without any sort of passing threat particularly with a defense yielding almost 30 points per game, he rips off the kind of game that made you draft him in the Top 10 to begin with. Maybe Steve Spagnuolo reads my blog, because damn if he didn't hear what I was saying in my previews this week.  I say sell high, because of the eight games remaining, only one is against a team with a bottom third rush defense in Cleveland. Arizona (2) and Seattle (2) are Top 15, and Pittsburgh, San Francisco (2), Cincinnati are all Top 10.  For New Orleans, this is one of those games that puts all their post-season hopes into question.  I wrote that Drew Brees wasn't as strong on the road, but turf usually plays to his strengths.  Jimmy Graham was held to under 100 yards receiving for the second game and scoreless, only the second time that's happened this year.

For the first time this year, Marcedes Lewis paced the Jags with four receptions for 45 yards.  If there was a tight end sleeper coming into the 2011 fantasy season, Lewis was it.  Then David Garrard was summarily removed from the QB position, and that idea disappeared quicker than David Carr's pro career.  Joel Dreessen's yardage totals will likely continue their plunge, particularly if Andre Johnson finds the field this week, but he's become a touchdown magnet for the Texans.   Dreessen already has three scores this year, all coming in the last four games.   His career best is four, and he looks to be on a path to best that.  Keep an eye on Johnson's status for this week as he was still having trouble cutting as of last week.

Ok, I called the upset and the actual final score.  Think that'll happen again?  Me neither.  Yet Christian Ponder continues to make Minnesota a viable and even dynamic offense.  Barring some sort of odd injury or setback, we're looking a very good future QB in the NFL.  Adrian Peterson was held under 100 yards rushing, but added two touchdowns, including Ponders' lone passing score.  Devin Aromashodu led Minnesota with six targets this week.  In three of the last four weeks, Aromashodu has received five-plus targets, meaning Ponder likes looking for him.  He could factor in more games as the season moves on.  Cam Newton continues to amaze, and by all accounts shouldn't take a loss on his record as he did everything he could to put Carolina in position to take the Panthers to overtime.  For the second week in a row, Jonathan Stewart saw favor in the carries department, garnering two for every one DeAngelo Williams received.

There are few quarterbacks who throw a deep ball as well as Joe Flacco.  If only he could make the other throws he needs.  Flacco had just four completions until the Baltimore's last drive of the first half, losing a fumble and throwing an interception in the process.  In that last drive, he completed six, leading Baltimore to a field goal for a 24-6 deficit.  Anquan Boldin has started emerging from a slumber, but it was Ray Rice who got three touchdown runs in the second half and added 63 yards.  Both teams were miserably inefficient on third down and neither team had a pass play average of higher than six yards.  The big surprise was that Beanie Wells not only played but received 22 carries on his bum knee.  He gained 83 yards, just 3.8 per carry, but added a score -- a pretty good day against this Ravens defense.

Did Tony Sparano make a deal with the devil or what?  Two weeks straight the Dolphins had a game in hand and blew it late in the second half.  Only one coach could feel worse and that's Wisconsin's.  Eli Manning came through on my prediction he'd have a big day.  He continues to climb up the QB ratings chart and is now third best in the NFL, but perhaps the most important numbers are his 13/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.  The bad news for the Giants is that even with the return of Justin Tuck, Reggie Bush managed his second 100-yard rushing day of his career.  His other one was also ironically against the Giants back in 2006.  That doesn't mean I'm enticed by Bush or anyone Miami.  Even if I own Brandon Marshall, with Matt Moore under center you have to resign yourself to four or five catches for 45-50 yards a game at best.  Keep an eye on the status of Hakeem Nicks, who left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury.