Archive for category Detroit Lions

Twitter Roundtable Vol. 2

roundtableWelcome to the second edition of the Twitter Fantasy Football Roundtable. As is the case last time, a bunch of Fantasy writers who met on Twitter have gathered together to debate and discuss a current topic – today’s group consists of:

Matt Schauf  (@mschauf63) started writing about football for the expansive audience of metropolitan Oneonta, N.Y., back in 2002. After a couple of years of catering to his three readers there, he got picked up by ProFantasySports.com to be an IDP specialist. Soon after, Matt became the lead football writer for PFS and SportsBuff.com. You can now find his work there or at RapidDraft.com, where he also provides the strategy for the “Hollywood” character in the industry’s first single-player fantasy football game. His IDP writing can also be found at SportingNews.com and in preview magazines for Sporting News, Rotoworld and Football Diehards. In addition, Matt runs the industry news site FantasySportsBusiness.com, which was named best new site of 2008 by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

Joshua Torrey (@jmtorrey) is an Electrical/Computer Engineer working out of Austin, TX. A die hard Steelers fan & fan of not just football but football strategy, Joshua enjoys breaking down game tape and team schemes to predict long term fantasy success. He is also a contributor to FantasyDC.com. He has 5 tattoos, showered yesterday and is eating meatloaf for lunch.

Andrew Garda (@ThunderingBlurb ) has been writing about football for the last eight years, covering everything from Fantasy to College to the NFL. He’s written for such sites as Draftguys.com and BleacherReport.com, but for the last year and a half has also had his own site at ThunderingBlurb.com. He’s also been podcasting since before they had a name for it and despite that making him feel quite old, continues his own weekly show The Thundering Blurb Football Show every Wednesday (10pm EST) on BlogTalkRadio.com.

Mark Gram (@FF101) Along with Adam Stark and Eric Pedigo, Mark begins the 5th season of Fantasy Football 101 with a fantasy draft special on Aug 13th on www.sportsradio1450.com WFMB am.

 Jim Day (@Fantasytaz) is a retired Biotech Engineer who has been playing Fantasy Football since 1992. Seriously addicted, Jim plays in about 30 Fantasy leagues a year, with most of these being large roster IDP Dynasty leagues. He has been writing for FF sites since 2000 when he started with Xpertsports.com. Jim started Fantasy Football Whiz in 2007 just as a place to have some fun and conversation with fellow league mates and any other fantasy fanatic that wanted to talk FF. It’s a small site, but is growing every year. Besides The Whiz, he also owns and acts as head engineer for Ultimate Recording, a 96 track, fully digital recording studio (im’s other love).

Steve Wyremski (@retiredrookie) is a CPA working in NYC.  He’s a big time New York Jets and Boston College (alum) fan and has been playing fantasy football since 1996.  His primary focus is to reach out to NFL and NCAA players for interviews in an effort to bring the players closer to fans.  Dynasty leagues are a huge focus of his, but general football strategy is his love.

Parag Gheewala (@vote4parag) is an average guy with a day job who loves fantasy football and is also the mastermind behind Mockumentary, which started as his Twitter commentary on the first Twitter Fantasy Football Mock Draft. It quickly lead to Top 10 Fantasy Football Tweeter status. Parag loves the interactive and instant nature of Twitter, but the blog allows him to provide more in-depth comments when needed. Follow him on Twitter and via Mockumentary.

Jared Ferree (@WYFShow ) hosts the “What’s Your Fantasy” radio show/podcast on Blogtalkradio’s Fantasy Sports Channel with Raymond Summerlin.  He is also a frequent contributor to www.lindyssports.com with both fantasy player rankings and general fantasy football articles. 

And now the question of the day.

 

Last year saw a pretty much unprecedented amount of rookie running backs who turned in stud performances: Steve Slaton, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson were the class of the class – and all things being equal Kevin Smith looked pretty darned good as well.

Which of these guys is most likely to see a dip in numbers their second year and why?

 

Matt Schauf – RapidDraft.com:

Steve Slaton topped out at 248 carries in college and twice carried fewer than 215 times in his three seasons. The Texans know that they have to be careful about overworking him — as evidenced when they basically sat him (four carries) for the Baltimore game last year. He can’t average 22 carries like he did over the final six weeks of 2008. If more short-yardage carries go the way of Chris Brown and/or Ryan Moats, it’ll chip away at the nine rushing scores Slaton had last year.

That said, I think all of these players belong in the first two rounds of any draft (unless you have some funky scoring system).

 

Josh Torrey – FantasyDC.com:

I think all of them stand a very likely chance to see a drop in Fantasy production this year. But I agree with Matt, Steve Slaton is one of the ones that stand a better chance. His small frame is what people were holding against him and Slaton proved us all wrong for one year.

 

But this is the NFL & Slaton is seeing more looks and hits from big time NFL linebackers, injury concerns my come up this year. Injuries can wreck Fantasy seasons and Slaton owners need to understand that one healthy season does not translate into a healthy career.

The other player I see being brought low is Chris Johnson. The kid is a blazer but he really is a one trick pony. Willie Parker lit up the league his first couple seasons as NFL Defenses still were not prepared for such potent speed rush attacks. LenDale White helps Chris Johnson in that opposing Defenses have less time to sub in a better defense for the battering ram that is White or the roadrunner that is Johnson.

 

Both Titan RBs saw great production increases last year, but if the Titans do start to favor Johnson, he could be in for a long season. My prediction is that the Titans will keep things balanced and Johnson will see some TDs lost to a better passing attack (not by much granted) and White.

 

Andrew Garda – ThunderingBlurb.com:

Everybody already knows I consider Forte a guy who will slip in year two. But as I’m merely pointing out that I expect him to dip a bit (and remain a top 10 back) I’m not sure I would characterize it as a sophomore slump & I don’t know it will be the biggest.

I agree with Josh that Chris Johnson is a prime candidate for a stumble. My biggest worry is that he is going into the season with no real passing offense. While that didn’t seem hamper him much last year, defenses weren’t as prepared for the speed he brought to the table.

Take a close look at his last few games – he struggled (but scored) on the ground against Pittsburgh and Baltimore. He caught just two catches for a measly 1 yard versus the Steelers. But he also struggled terribly against Houston.

If you let the Ravens game go as he was hurt and left the match, but look at the other two you’ll note that in both cases, teams pinned him against the line, allowed him no cutback lanes and generally hit him early and often.

It didn’t help that Collins was off his already unimpressive game.

If a team like Houston (ranked 23rd vs the run in 2008) can figure this out, more than likely others will too. It’s especially worrisome since it happened late in the season and was replicated by Pittsburgh.

And look at that early schedule – Steelers, Jets, Jags (twice), Pats – it’s not pretty.

Let’s also not forget LenDale White stealing short yardage work, though if it balances like last year that won’t hurt too much.

I like Johnson, but I think this year a season’s worth of tape along with the mediocre pass game may hurt him more than people expect.

 

Mark Gram – FF101 on Sportsradio1450.com:

I had a tough time deciding between C. Johnson and S. Slaton. While I Johnson coming back to the pack just a little, I feel that Slaton will be the guy whose numbers may drop the most.

Good points have already been made as to why Slaton may struggle a bit this season. First, the NFL is not stupid; Slaton will not sneak up on opponents this year. Defenses will be prepared.

Second, as Matt mentioned, the Texans aren’t going to give him the workload that he had last season. With C. Brown and R. Moats as the backups, I think Slaton will see fewer touches at the goal-line.

He’s still a fine option in fantasy drafts, but I’m going into my drafts not expecting the same #’s as last year.

 

Jeff Terfertiller – Footballguys.com:

I see Slaton and Johnson having a decent chance of wearing down.  Both are “smaller” and there is talk of both having a big role this season.  Hard to believe the Titans will give Johnson too many carries. 

 

With White being used to close out games in 2008, he saw extended action as the Titans led many games.  What happens if more games are close?  Will the Titans give Johnson 20-25 touches per game? 

 

Also, what happens if Collins is hurt or ineffective?  I think last year was a perfect storm of good fortune for Tenn.  In Houston, this is the year for Slaton to prove he can handle the load.  If he has two great seasons, he vaults to a perennial Top 5 pick. 

 

Josh Torrey – FantasyDC.com:

Andrew said ‘I like Johnson, but I think this year a season’s worth of tape along with the mediocre pass game may hurt him more than people expect.’

 

I like Chris Johnson in the 2nd Round. But I don’t think I will ever get a chance to even sniff at him.

 

Parag Gheewala – Mockumentary:

I like all three RBs and don’t foresee a major stumble out of any of them.  I expect Forte’s numbers to decrease from last year because of fewer targets and carries, but he’s good enough not to bust.  Until I see signs that Slaton can’t handle the load, I’ll believe what I saw last year.  Same goes for Johnson – I think he’s got elite skills.  Slaton and Johnson are great values.

 

Jared Ferree – What’s Your Fantasy Podcast:

One thing that really annoys me about Matt Forte is that I feel people are over valuing him based on the value he represented last season.  Forte went undrafted in some leagues and if you did draft him, you probably picked him up very late.  So based on what he did last season, he was a tremendous value and has people all in a tizzy about him.  The guy did less with 300+ carries than anyone I have ever seen, 3.9 YPC, and 8 rushing TDs, are you serious? 

 

His value was in the passing game and I don’t think that was planned it was due to Kyle Orton looking to check down.  Cutler thinks he can hit a guy with 2 DB’s draped on his back and if there is one thing I can guarantee in fantasy football this season, it is that Matt Forte won’t come close to his reception totals last season. 

 

If you watched some of the games that Forte played in last season, there were times he sat out for a long stretch and then got brought in at the one yard line and got a TD, and his stat line was decent.  He was average at best running the ball and better than people thought catching the ball.  I think he doesn’t carry more than 265 times, and doesn’t catch over 40 balls.  That means his production drops quite a bit. 

 

I don’t predict injuries, so I am assuming Slaton stays healthy and Johnson is a threat to go deep every time he touches the ball, so to me, this one is easy, if you take Forte top 5, you will be disappointed, because I don’t think he is a top 10 fantasy back this season. 

 

Jim Day – FantasyFootballWhiz.com:

I have to agree with Jared on this one, I think Forte falls the furthest. That being said, I think all of these kids (outside of Kevin Smith) will remain top 10 at the position. I just don’t think Forte come out on top of this group.

Hate to reiterate what has already been said, but it has been said that his touches will go down partly due to a healthy Kevin Jones looking quicker than he has in the last couple of years according to Chicago beat writers and also the fact that Cutler will look to throw the ball further downfield more often.

Ultimately though I think these things help Forte and allow him to remain fresher longer into the season and maybe even extend his career some, I’m just not sure I see top five in his future in 2009.

 

Josh Torrey – FantasyDC.com:

While Kevin Jones might be healthy with the pads off, I don’t expect Jones to make it 2 weeks without getting injured. I think the other Adrian Peterson will steal more carries from Forte & is the handcuff to own.

 

Jim Day – FantasyFootballWhiz.com:

I am not a fan of Handcuffs and don’t draft that way, so I really don’t care who takes his carries, just that they will be taken.

 

Steve Wyremski - retiredrookie.com:

Forte is my guy.

Chicago was a game managing team last year with a ton of dump offs and clock management.  Add a gun slinger and I see two changes:

1) Less dump off passes to the RB;
2) More tossing the ball around.

This all equals fewer opportunities for Forte.  Let’s face it… Forte was the Bears offense last season.  While the addition of one of the best young QuarterBacks in the league may help keep the safety out of the box, he’s not going to see the same number of touches.  The Bears are also more likely to get a second RB involved this season based on recent news out of Chicago.

Forte’s big time overrated right now.

 

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Shock And Awe: The Winners and Losers for Day 1 of the 2009 NFL Draft

It’s a little bit folly to try and really declare winners and losers for a draft that isn’t even finished, much less a day old. Players haven’t even stepped on a NFL field yet, and some may not pay off for several years to come, forget this season.

Still, by the end of Saturday, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to examine some teams who have ended up looking smart and others….

Well, not so much.

So with the realization in mind that we still don’t know everything – here are the teams who made our jaws drop, though not always for good reasons.

The Shock

Oakland Raiders
Maybe Al Davis and his Raiders will prove us all wrong, but right now their draft can be summed up in an exchange I saw between Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times (where the Raiders once resided) and Raiders beat writer Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee (which is close to Oakland i suppose).

Farmer: Why were the Raiders reaching like that in the second?

Jones: They reach because that’s what they do.

They weren’t going to go offensive tackle, despite the need, because that’s not really the Raiders way.

And I knew they weren’t going to grab Crabtree, whether or not he was the best wide receiver on the board at the time. Crabtree’s lack of timed 40 speed made it impossible because Davis is crazy for speed like the bird in that cereal commercial is coo-coo for cocoa puffs.

But I never thought he would bypass Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin, who had the speed and a more developed game. I’m a little nonplussed.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish Heyward-Bey a failed career and he will probably turn out ok. But picking him up at 7, when they could have traded back and picked him later?

That’s just not achieving maximum value.

Worse, the team manages to follow it up with an even bigger reach in choosing Ohio Safety Michael Mitchell, a guy most people didn’t even have ranked in their drafts much less the second round.

Mitchell also may develop into a solid player, but right now he looks like a workout warrior and a huge reach as the third safety off the board behind Patrick Chung of Oregon and Louis Delmas of Western Michigan.

It’s one thing to fall in love with a player. It’s another to waste a pick five rounds early.

The Raiders have five picks on Sunday, two in the fourth round. They can recover, given the tremendous value still on the board, but if they keep picking like this, they might as well throw darts at a list on the wall.

Dallas Cowboys
How can I say it’s a bad draft when they didn’t draft anyone?

Bad enough the Cowboys didn’t have a pick for the first round due to last year’s wheeling and dealing, but they then traded out of the second.

Meanwhile, value continued to tumble by them in the form of solid safeties, wide receivers and defensive ends.

Maybe it’s not bad in the sense the Raiders draft was on Saturday but it’s shocking to watch the usually wheeling Cowboys nuetered and missing out on the value on the board.

Cleveland Browns
The Browns made a big move back when the Jets traded for the fifth pick and Mark Sanchez (more on that in a minute) and were poised to grab some great value all day long.

Instead, they kept moving backwards accumulating more and more picks. And when they did spend them, it’s questionable whether they took the best value on the board.

I can’t argue with the selection of Alex Mack. The center from Cal is a versatile lineman who can work at almost any position along the line. And Brian Robiskie is a polished, fast receiver who runs a solid route tree and will contribute early, especially if Braylon Edwards is traded on day two.

But the Browns can’t rush the passer and need a linebacker or top flight defensive lineman.

I say need because while Mack is a great center, USC linebackers Clay Matthews and Rey Maualuga as well as Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitus were on the board still.

Maualuga was in fact still on the board when Robiskie was picked. While offensive line and wide receiver were needs, the pass rush was a bigger one and with several very good linebackers on the board, the Browns chose to fill less important needs.

They also bypassed shoring up their need at cornerback by letting Vontae Davis and Alphonso Smith sneak away as well.

And as much as I think Hawaii defensive end/linebacker convert David Veikune will be a good upside pick, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi was a luxury, especially behind the Robiskie pick.

Massaquoi may become a good possession receiver down the road, but they could have grabbed a corner, safety or even replace Winslow at tight end.

For a team with so many holes who is rebuilding, it seems like they filled few of them with four picks in the first two rounds.

The Browns have four more picks on Sunday – one in the fourth and three in the six. Lots of defensive talent remains on the board and I hope they can recover from a lackluster day one.

The Awe

New York Jets
Jet Nation is a tad split over the selection of USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, especially given the talent that slid out of the first round and through the second. But when you look at the price they paid, it’s more than reasonable for a possible franchise quarterback.

Defensive end Kenyon Coleman, quarterback Brett Ratliff and safety Abram Elam were players who in all likelihood would get cut before camp or in Ratliff’s case, clearly hadn’t impressed the new regime all that much.

Aside from that, adding the second rounder to a swap that spanned twelve spots between first rounders is a marginal price to pay.

The Jets have put themselves in a position where they cannot make many mistakes on day two though. They have four more picks on Sunday spread across four of the five rounds.

As I said with the Browns, there are many value picks to be had but the Jets have to be conservative to a great extent. They already rolled their dice once and that’s as much as they can risk.

Detroit Lions
I will openly admit – and it’s a shock to nobody who has read my work the last few months – that I do not agree with the Stafford pick. It’s not an awful pick – just not one I believe had to happen this year.

Yet, Stafford could develop into a nice franchise quarterback and he is far from awful. While I may not agree with the strategy to rebuild the franchise, it’s a solid pick.

On the surface, Brandon Pettigrew at 20 made me wince as well. But, like Stafford, Pettigrew is considered the top at his position and on top of it, he’s a tremendous blocker.

He’s no offensive tackle but he will be able to stay in and protect Stafford. A pick that is more shrewd than i gave it credit for at first. As Stafford and the oline get better, Pettigrew can release and become more of a pass catching tight end.

Finally, hard hitting cornerback Louis Delmas. Again, top at his position. And Delmas is the type of hard nosed player who could help give this defense a personality – something it greatly lacks.

The Lions are looking to become more physical on the defensive side of the ball and Delmas will bring that in spades. They also need some help in the secondary and this fills that hole.

Three picks. Three players arguably at the top of their class. They may not have filled all their needs but the ones they did fill were given top talent.

With five picks on day two, including the first in round three and another later the same round, the Lions stand to pick up some very good value. They could easily pull someone like Jarron Gilbert or Michael Johnson to help fill the defensive line hole, pick up the top guard on the board in Duke Robinson or even a decent tackle like South Carolina’s Jamon Meredith.

New England Patriots
The rich get richer. And richer. And richer.

How the organization ended up with the same amount of picks they started with, but also an embarrassment of riches in players is beyond me, but that’s how they end up being the great team they are every year.

Four picks in the second and every one a value.

Patrick Chung, second best safety in the class brings some thump to the secondary and will make receivers pay dearly.

Defensive tackle Ron Brace got overlooked a bit with BJ raji getting the love at Boston College, but will stuff the run as good as anyone in the draft class and is likely to take over for Vince Wilfork at the nose tackle.

Darius Butler, one of the top corners in the draft, probably won’t start this coming season but will take over in the aging secondary within the next year or two.

And while Sebastian Vollmer is a project for the offensive line, he will develop into a nice right tackle and used to play tight end, so he has the versatility to move around for trick plays if need be.

And, oh by the way – they have seven more picks. By the end of the draft they may have multiple picks for next years draft as well.

Before I let you go, dear reader, here are a few teams I am on the fence about. Tomorrow could be pivotal for them.

San Francisco 49ers: One pick, but what value. But you better build on Crabtree use your remaining six picks wisely.

Houston Texans: Methodically took care of two key needs with picks of USC LB Clay Matthews and DE Connor Barwin. Six more picks to shore up the corners and get a back to compliment Steve Slaton.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Almost made the Awe list, but as much as I loved watching them grab two very good offensive tackles in Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, passing on Crabtree and Maclin and then a host of good defensive line prospects makes me wonder if last season’s Oline injury woes didn’t get in their head too much.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Did you really need to leap up and pay the price you did to move a few spots? Especially since nobody in front of you was likely to grab your choice of Josh Freeman? Six picks on day two and like the Jets you’d beter make them count. Unlike the Jets though, your new franchise quarterback is a far bigger project and has more question marks.

Build the Castle, then Find a King to Defend It or Why the Lions Need Jason Smith


I recently finished my first (and at this late date, likely only) two round mock draft over at Draftguys.com and a funny thing happened on the way to the internet.

I didn’t have the Lions taking Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Crazy, I know.

Maybe it’s a reaction to the group think I keep seeing in mock after mock where Stafford has to go to the Lions. I have to admit when the herd runs one way, I tend to take a long look at alternative routes.

But more likely it’s a number of other mitigating factors – hang with me a moment, put the pitchforks down and hear me out.

1) Protection is a must
To paraphrase myself in my mock (how narcissistic is THAT?), you could clone a Serpentor-like mix of the best quarterbacks ever to grace the field, with the biggest arms, most accurate passes and Churchill-like leadership skills and it won’t matter a bit if all the QB does is lay on his back counting clouds and planes.

The Lions offensive line is – if you will excuse the pun – offensive. They flat out don’t protect the quarterback. They allowed 52 sacks last season – thank goodness for the 49ers, since they kept the Lions from being the worst in that category.

How can you utilize Calvin Johnson’s speed and vertical game when you can’t get the ball off? Sure Daunte Culpepper is past his prime as a quarterback. But when you are pressured that often and that consistently? Who can be successful?

2) If You Can’t Block, Then You Can’t Run and You Can’t Pass
Not enough for you? Ok, they’re also barely capable of holding holes open for the running back. Ranked 30th in the league in rushing yards, with a near-tragic 1,332 yards total and a futile 3.8 yards per carry.

If you have no run game, you have no pass game. What about the Cardinals you ask? Well, they have an offensive line that jelled late and have two of the best wide receivers in the game today and a #3 who is better than half the #2s (and a few #1 guys) in the league. In the desert, the line held. The proof? Just 28 sacks against (tied with the Giants) and 4,674 yards through the air. Oh, and the third most TDs through the air.

The Lions should be so lucky. And in the end, a lack of run game was one of the flaws in this Arizona team. They didn’t need to run because they threw the ball so well, but they finally got caught against a team who could stop the air attack (as they were several times last year) and it cost them the Super Bowl.

It’s a glaring hole for the Lions. If they cannot protect the ball carrier, the defense will not respect the run and will just tee off on whoever is the unlucky soul hucking the ball.

3) And Many Miles to go Before I Sleep
Let’s be honest. This team is not the Miami Dolphins – a team with no one superstar or stud piece, but a lot of solid players who could get the job done. The Lions have a superstar in Calvin Johnson, a solid running back in Kevin Smith and… um….. some other guys.

Adding Stafford or Sanchez is not instantly turning this team around. It’s not even the first step. Or third. It might not even be half a step. This team is riddled with holes all over the place.

The Dolphins succeeded last year in part because the pieces they added in the Draft and elsewhere were just enough to get an average team over the hump. Any Miami fan who is honest with themselves know that the team played over its head last year. And any AFC East fan worth his salt knows they were never as bad as the 2007 season made them look. They just didn’t have that far to go to begin with.

The Lions, on the other hand, have much more to do before they can become ‘good’.

And if they draft a QB here – well see points 1 & 2. He may not be around long enough to pay off, or could see his confidence shattered before the team really comes together.

There will be plenty of very good quarterbacks next year – more than there are this year in my opinion. And I’m sorry Lionsfan, but you are primed to be at the top of the heap again next year in the Draft.

Like the title says – build the castle first, then prop up a king to lead you.

And while I do like Stafford and Sanchez, I don’t know if they will survive the beating they would get behind this line, nor be a capable quarterback long term if they have to live through that many sacks and that much pressure. Many good quarterbacks have been chewed up by a porous line.

What about Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco you say? Totally different situations. Ryan was plopped into a rebuilt oline, one that was built to be carried by Michael Turner. Defenses could not just tee off on Ryan, as they were too busy worrying about Turner. And in turn, they couldn’t shut Turner down because Ryan would torch them.

Plop Sanchez and Stafford in a situation like that and I would be much happier with the pick. The Falcons did tons to fix their team before they got Ryan. They had the castle built, had a kick ass moat and a fierce, ball-carrying dragon thrown in for good measure.

Flacco is a weirder situation because he wasn’t brought in to start ASAP. He only played because Troy Smith got tonsillitis and missed the preseason. He also stepped into a decent oline situation and while his receivers weren’t stunning and the run game a bit lackluster, he wasn’t asked to win a bunch of games.

Oh and the Ravens’ D? A little better than the Lions’. He didn’t need to have big games because the team wasn’t allowing many points – just 15.2 a game, third best in the league.

Think Stafford/Sanchez will have the luxury or easing through a season without having to face enormous deficits?

Before you answer, the Lions gave up 32.3 points a game. That would be dead last in the NFL, if you were wondering.

So that’s an awful risk you’re taking, plugging even those two behind a line that’s filled with turnstiles and with a defense that tends to get scored on early and often.

4) Money, Money, Money, MONEY!
I hate to say it, but signability will factor in this pick. How much are you going to spend on Stafford or Sanchez? Ryan had $34.75 million in guaranteed money. They won’t settle for less and will ask for a ton more, since they would be the first pick, not the third like Ryan.

The Dolphins’ first pick, OT Jake Long, cost a mere $30 million in guaranteed money.

Ryan also signed for six years at $72 million while Long is signed for five years at $57.75 million.

It’s going to be expensive, that’s why they are trying to trade out of the pick. It’s also why they won’t be able to. So while it’s sexier to pick the QB, it’s a far safer – and likely cheaper – to go offensive lineman.

Even if the Lions are unmoved by the preceding 1,241 words, they may be moved by the money. Don’t just look at the difference between what Long got and what Ryan got. Remember two other things – we’re talking about a quarterback in the first slot, not the third and a quarterback always gets far more money than a lineman.

In 2007, Jamarcus Russell got a six-year contract worth up to $68 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed. Last year, Ryan – just one year and two slots later – got six years at $72 million with $34.75 million in guaranteed money.

You have to figure if push comes to shove, getting their player at a reasonable price in this economy, may play a huge factor. And Smith will flat out come cheaper.

The one thing I haven’t touched on is Jason Smith (who I think will go ahead of Eugene Monroe out of Virginia). It’s not as if the offensive tackle out of Baylor isn’t very, very good. He is. He’s great in pass protection, is very light on his feet and agile, plays with a flat-out nasty streak and probably hasn’t even fulfilled his potential. I love the guy.

If the Lions take him, he will be a cornerstone for the offensive line – and therefore, that offense – for years to come.

They will have made a good start at building that castle, perhaps adding to it as the Draft progresses.

Then, and only then, should they go find the king to lead them forward.

MAYHEM IN THE NFL – Free Agency continues

So I spent a chunk of the day away from the computer for family stuff and what happens? Trades. Misinformation. Chaos. Love it.

Let’s go over some of the bigger points.

  • Rumors abounded yesterday that there was more to the Mike Vrabel to Kansas City than appeared at first blush. Well, those were on target. Matt Cassel will be accompanying him west. Earlier this off-season, I franchised tagged Tony Gonzalez in a Dynasty league and man am I happy about that now. Cassel should make Tony G, Dwayne Bowe and the rest of the offense very happy. Now the Chiefs desperately need to shore the Oline up and you can bank on an OT going with their 1st round pick.
  • By the way, rumors are also swirling that Denver QB Jay Cutler is on the trading block due to three way trades that Detroit and Tampa Bay tried to swing to get Cutler and have Cassel go to Denver. When I want to know what is going on in Denver I check with Cecil Lammey over at Footballguys and Denver’s 104.1 the Fan. He texted me that the Broncos DID NOT try to trade Cutler. Lammey says the were not shopping Cutler at all. Now do I think they listened to the trade offers that came their way? Sure, why wouldn’t they? But I can’t imagine for a hot second they would replace Cutler – who is proven – with Cassel who is nowhere NEAR as proven. Cassel can play – but why trade for him when you have Cutler. It’s a mess but again – Cecil says Denver is NOT looking to shop Jay Cutler. I know ESPN is saying otherwise, but frankly it sounds like story creating to me. Between Lammey, Shefter and the Donkeys themselves, I will take their takes over an often inconsistent ESPN.
  • Where in the world is TJ Houshmandzedah? Heading into Sunday (aka day 3) Housh is still without a home, having visited Seattle and Minny and reportedly heading to Tampa Sunday. Certainly the market isn’t what he was hoping for. Ditto Derrick Ward who may end up in Denver, especially if the JJ Arrington signing there really does fall through.
  • Detroit and Dallas revisited their trading ways from the season, swapping Jon Kitna for Anthony Henry. With some questions about Romo’s inconsistencies and a few injuries, Kitna is good insurance. Henry can play well but isn’t fantastic. Still, a new place for him will probably be a good thing.

For a complete list of who has signed where thus far, check out NFLDraftbible.com.

I’ll be back throughout the day tomorrow. Thanks again to Cecil Lammey for responding at a ridonkulously late hour so I could do this post.

Thanksgiving Day Games – TENN @ DET

Happy Turkey Day to you all – I hope you are well on your way to Turkey and Mash potato goodness and ready for some football.

You can catch the up to date, latest info version on the Fantasy Sports Channel at BlogtalkRadio.com at 7:30amPST/10:30amEST tomorrow.

I’ll take your calls live and get you ready for Turkey Dinner. Here is the breakdown for the Titans and Lions as of Wednesday night.

TITANS
Kerry Collins
Collins has played well in his last three games with just 1 INT to 6 TDs and 762 yards. Collins even played relatively well and put up 243 yds against a tough Jets D. And did it when the Jets were owning the time of possession. He was only able to complete 50% of his throws, but the Jets did a great job of covering him. The Lions have given up 18TDs so far with only two interceptions. He faces a much better matchup this week and I expect this whole Titans team to bounce back and take some aggression out on the Lions. Problem is, the Titans will probably use this matchup to spark the run game again and see if they can get it rolling before the playoffs. He might put up good numbers but more than likely, he will not do all that much this Thanksgiving day and could be too much of a risk to play.

He’s a matchups guy and this might be one of those matchups to watch but again, the Lions rush D is even worse than the pass D, so your expectations are better served if they are low.

Chris Johnson
Johnson struggled again this past weekend, but you can’t totally blame him against the third best run D in the league. The once fearsome rookie has tailed off overall over the past three games two of which were against top 5 run defenses (Bears and Jets). But he hasn’t even been involved in the pass game of late either. The Titans have every chance to get the ground game back in gear against a terrible run defense. The Kitty Cats are averaging more than 170 yards on the ground with 18 Tds served on the side. This is the Titans chance to get their rookie rolling again. If they are to win in the playoffs, they need the run game going and the Lions are a great matchup. Johnson is a pretty safe start this Thursday.

Here’s the problem though – the line has stopped playing as well as it did earlier this season. This is a chance for the offensive line to get back on track as well. The inside line has had issues (and props to Footballguys.com’s Marc Faletti for pointing it out) and they need to get themselves together. It isn’t (shouldn’t be) something to worry about this week – but at some point they will need to get themselves going and re-establish the line dominance they had.

LenDale White
Complain the loudest and you get the most carries? Nope, but White may get some more anyway as the Lions are THAT good a matchup.He is a safe play as a flex – you cannot expect yards as well, not safely. He is a hail mary but if you are going to run him out, this is one you could do it in and the risk level is lower.

Justin Gage
He will go as Collins goes, but if its run heavy, he is shaky. He is a bigger guy than anyone on the Detroit secondary so he will get targets, but I would shy away with a lot of better matchups this weekend.

Bo Scaife
Your safest Titan through the air. He was targeted seven times against the Jets (though he only caught three balls) and will continue to get a lot of looks. As far as TE’s go, becoming more consistent and these days that’s all you can ask for at the TE spot.

LIONS
Duante Culpepper
Culpepper alternately looks great and then looks horrific. Last week vs the Bucs he started off great, hitting Calvin Johnson for a 15 yard TD, but ended ugly with just 121 yards and the one TD, with 2 INTs for good measure. And now, because fate is a harsh mistress, he faces a Titans D that has twice as many interceptions as they have given up TDs (16 INTs to 7 TDs). You’d have to be pretty ballsy, desperate or crazy to start him here. Sometimes I am all three of the above and I still won’t touch him this Thursday.

Kevin Smith
Smith is banged up and that’s a concern. He had a good day against a pretty tough Bucs D. With Rudi Johnson done you might be tempted as he will get the carries, but he will be hard pressed against a defense that is still very good against the run. Don’t expect a Thomas Jones or Leon Washington performance here. The Lions will not wear down the defense and control the clock like Gang Green did. Jones is too shaky for a start this week.

Calvin Johnson
Cortland Finnegan a worry? Yup. But Johnson is bigger, stronger and faster than Finnegan. Yes, Finnegan will get a pick – at least one – but how often have we seen his do well with few to no targets or catches. He is a top 5 WR even with the miniscule targets. He has scored a TD in 6 of his last 7 games and 7 of the eleven games he has played, including the one he was in for about a quarter before leaving with an injury. This guy is a beast and you should have him in – even in an atrocious matchup like this.

Shaun McDonald
Run away.

So that’s it – tons of potential value on the Titans sideline, but not much over on the Lions.

KItna getting yanked

Hey guys

Watching as Dan Orlovsky is getting ready to go in for Detroit – told you guys NOT to start Kitna and Orton and Griese were better starts. So far it looks like I was dead on – hope you heard me.

Question is – will this be permanent? Will we see Drew Stanton? What will this mean for the Lions studs?

I’ll be watching and give you my thoughts…

FYI Bye Week Teams

Forgot to post this earlier – so keep these guys in mind – TON of teams off this week…

Week 4 – Detroit, Indy, Miami, New England, NY Giants, Seattle

The return of — CEDRIC BENSON??!?!?

Have gotten a few questions about Cedric Benson and whether or not he is worth a pickup and I just wanted to remind you guys that NOTHING is confirmed yet.

Whereas a news station in Austin is saying ‘Done Deal’, the Detroit Free Press is saying negotiations haven’t even started yet.

Benson would be an intriguing pickup for the Lions who don’t seem thrilled with Rudi Johnson but also don’t have a lot of quality RB depth anyway. He might be worth a spot on your bench if you aren’t cutting a performer – someone who is putting some points up. I believe his upside is limited due to attitude and work ethic, but let’s face it – Kevin Smith is a rookie and at some point they will want to spell him.

I have argued Smith might be better prepared for the length of the NFL season due to that huge number of carries last year at Central Florida. But the rookie is doing well, but not great (26 carries for 88 yards, 8 catches for 53 yards – and just 1 TD on the ground) and at some point they may want to chaneg things up a bit. I don’t think Smith is bad – and I KNOW Benson is no long term solution – but he may get carries.

But the fact is, this has NOT happened yet. I’ll let you know when I hear something different, but don’t jump the gun. If your waivers need to go in today, you may hesitate and that’s fine. It is unlikely Benson will be teh missing link in your Championship. The guy is bench depth, that’s pretty much it.

As far as the Lions (and Rudi Johnson are concerned) at least he’s not stealing stuff out of the locker room. Right Tatum?

CRIME SPREE!

I will certainly talk about this on the Thundering Blurb Daily News Stampede (at noon EST/9am PST – PLUG) but let me touch on the greatest (admittedly uncomfirmed) news piece of this fledgling season. More serious and less bizarre but hilarious news tomorrow morning here and on the News Stampede but who can go to bed without talking about this?

Seems that while visiting the Detroit Lions, Rudi Johnson apparently left some bags he had brought with him outside Matt Millen’s office. When they checked the security tape – turns out Tatum Bell walked off with them. This is off ProFootballTalk.com and seems uncomfirmed so I will quote the PFT article -

So when Johnson came back to get his bags, they were nowhere to be found. Johnson and Millen were stumped.

Enter the eye in the sky.

The team checked the videotapes generated by the team’s in-house surveillance system, and they quickly identified the culprit.

So who might it have been? None other than Tatum Bell, who lost his gig with the Lions after Rudi arrived.

Per the source, Bell took the bags to the house of a female acquaintance. When confronted on the matter, Bell offered up some cockamamie story that he thought the bags belonged to someone he knew. The girl, however, said that she hadn’t seen Bell in several months and he showed up out of the blue and asked her to keep the bags for a while.

Seems Tatum is no better a thief than a #1 running back. The bag has been returned and charges were not filed.

A real, real sick part of me hopes this is true. I mean, this is like giving Dan Quayle to the Late Night talk show hosts – it’s just mean.

More tomorrow.

Rudi Johnson, Detroit Lion

No sooner do I say it’s been slow when Detroit goes and signs Rudi Johnson to their roster.

This should spell the end of the Tatum Bell experience in Motown and Johnson should spell rookie Kevin Smith enough to have some potential bye-week upside, if not more. If Smith burns out (as rookies tend to) near the end of the season, RudiJ could have some nice value at the end of the year.