THUNDERING BLURB » fantasy football ANDREW GARDA'S ENDLESS TAKES ON NFL AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL Fri, 22 Oct 2010 12:30:31 +0000 en hourly 1 Trendspotting: Maurice Jones-Drew Thu, 22 Oct 2009 17:31:19 +0000 admin I’ll be the first to admit that I had a bunch of concerns about Maurice Jones-Drew coming into this season. Most of those concerns – regarding his size, weight and their impact on his durability as well as the fact that he has never carried the ball as many times as the Jaguars want him to – are things which take a whole season to play out.
MJD is the Top Fantasy RB in many leagues

MJD is the Top Fantasy RB in many leagues

I felt he was still a top ten back. Six weeks in, he’s not only that but a top two back. He’s even the #1 back in many leagues.
However, while his overall numbers are very good his week to week numbers have fallen flat a few times.
A quick look at his overall games (credit to for supplying the stats) shows a few games where his owners might have struggled.
1   IND 21 97 1 8 5 26 0 18.3  
2   ARI 13 66 0 7 4 17 0 8.3  
3   HOU 23 119 3 7 4 28 0 32.7  
4   TEN 6 14 1 3 3 26 0 10.0  
5   SEA 12 34 0 5 5 23 0 5.7  
6   STL 33 133 3 7 5 45 0 35.8  
TOT     108 463 8 37 26 165 0 110.8
Looking at the numbers I was struck by how inconsistent the production has been. His big games are big – very few backs have had games like that this season, much less more than one.
On the other hand, he’s had a few subpar games to alternate with those huge games.
What is going on with Jones-Drew? Is there a cause for concern? What is causing the yo-yoing production?
In this week’s Trendspotting, we look at the diminutive back and examine whether his owners need to sell high – or if the rest of us need to buy.
While I was working on the research for this, I did something a little different and threw out a post in the Footballguys forums to take the temperature of his owners and see what people felt might be going on if anything. You can check out response here, but I found very little worry for his prospects and some thoughts on the up and down production which mirrored what I was already thinking.
A few people are selling high(ish) and a few are looking to buy but overall his owners are patient and calm.
Good stuff there though and I encourage you to check it out.
And why shouldn’t his owners be patient. The overall picture in fantasy right now is one of struggling first round running backs.
Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Steven Jackson, Steve Slaton – all are players taken in the first who have had issues in the first six weeks. We could add folks like Tom Brady and Randy Moss (Week 6 fireworks notwithstanding) as well. 
So it isn’t a reach to say that Jones-Drew has more than been worth his pick, along with the other survivor of the first round, Adrian Peterson. 
I took a look at the many leagues I am in (mostly PPR leagues, but some not) and Jones-Drew is the top back in many of them. You can’t be upset when so many other studs have fallen flat.
What about those down games? Well, first consider that in the above graph from FBG’s player page, eight and ten points are not tragic totals (and do not include PPR points). Disappointing? Perhaps. 
Looking closer though, Jones-Drew ran into things that may have shut down the production for many of the backs in the same situation.
As Sigmund Bloom points out in the thread, both the Arizona and Seattle games he was hamstrung by an early deficit. Looking at those two games, Jones-Drew got his usual amount of catches as well – between four and five which is right at his average so far. Against Arizona he still compiled a nice 83 yards total. 
While the Seattle game didn’t even have that going for it, there hasn’t been a back this year who didn’t put up lackluster points once.
Still, that game highlights one problem with Jones-Drew – or rather his situation. For whatever reason, the line has not been able to create enough room for him to run. It could be starting two rookies on the line, it could be an echo of the adversity the squad faced last season.
Is MJD dissmissing critics like he does these Bills?

Is MJD dismissing critics like he does these Bills?

Luckily, Jones-Drew has proven himself to be that special breed of back who can overcome weakness around him. In the tradition of LaDainian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders and Steven Jackson, Jones-Drew is a back who transcends situation. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have concerns (which we’ll touch on in a minute) but it does say that regardless of his team he will make positive yards most of the time.

One thing owners have to love is the propensity of the Jaguars to give him the rock in the red zone.
A quick look at the numbers show Jones-Drew has gotten more looks than ANYONE else on the team and by a huge margin. In fact, of 71 total red zone looks, Jones-Drew has been ‘the man’ on 30 of them. The next closest is quarterback David Garrard with 21. After that it is a huge dip to the surprising Mike Sims-Walker who has seven.
Of his eight touchdowns, all but one are short yardage/goal line scores. He can still break a long one on occasion (as evidenced by his 61 yards touchdown against the Texans in Week 3) but you know that the team will nearly always give him the rock in the red.
Mind you, so does the opposition. That’s true of many stud backs though, so really you’re looking for opportunity and Jones-Drew gets plenty of it.
You also have to like some of his upcoming schedule. The Titans aren’t scaring anyone, Kansas City, Buffalo, Texans and Colts can all be run on. The Jets are reeling – we’ll see how they are in a few weeks but they aren’t an immovable object, especially without NT Kris Jenkins.
They aren’t all easy match-ups but it’s not an awful schedule.
The only concern I have with Jones-Drew is no different than what I was worried about in August: can he hold up to the workload?
As much as he hasn’t carried the ball 30 times every game, he has already racked up 108 carries. His first three years the total number of carries were 197 (2008), 167 (2007) and 166 (2006). 
He’s already more than halfway to the most carries he has ever had in his NFL career. I’m not even adding the catches, which he should easily eclipse as well this season. 
Jones-Drew has never carried the ball as often as he will this season (barring injury). So my biggest concern remains, will he be able to keep it up all season.
The team is not forcing either Greg Jones or Rashard Jennings into the mix with great frequency. This is Jones-Drew’s team, it is not a running back by committee nor does it show any signs of becoming one.
It is a hard – and honestly very dicey – to try a predict injury. Many people do – I’m not one of them. But we have seen backs fade as a season goes. If Jones-Drew had carried the ball 250+ times at least once in college (as other slight backs have – most notably Barry Sanders who for some reason people love to point out to me was a smaller back who never had injury issues) I’d be less concerned.
He hasn’t though and any owner or analyst should at least be a little concerned as the season progresses if he continues on a pace to pass 300 carries (and probably 350 touches total including catches). He’s never done it before – that doesn’t mean he can’t and there is a first time for everything. There aren’t many things more season killing though than to have a stud back wear out as you hit the Fantasy Playoffs.
Am I saying sell high? Am I guaranteeing an injury or dip in production?
No, not at all. I wouldn’t sell Jones-Drew and if I ran across an owner who was looking to part ways, I would see what I could do to acquire him.
What I am saying is, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If you own
Will MJD put the facepalm to his critics?

Will MJD put the facepalm to his critics?

Jones-Drew, make sure you have back-ups you would be comfortable rolling with into the playoffs. It’s not ground-breaking advice and further, it applies to just about any stud back.
With his lack of history though, it’s more critical than doing so for a guy like Peterson.
Otherwise though, if you’re an owner of Maurice Jones-Drew, it may be a slightly bumpy ride but it’s also one that could help you towards a championship.    
]]> 0
Trendspotting: Thomas Jones & Leon Washington Thu, 01 Oct 2009 20:59:17 +0000 admin NFL_new_york_jets_1[1]Before Brett Favre came to town in 2008, the New York Jets had built their offense to be one that would center on – though not exclusively – the ground game.
However, the moment Favre arrived, the Jets morphed into a more evenly balanced attack. Yet despite that, Thomas Jones had his fourth straight 1,000 yard season and his first with double digit touchdowns (Jones had 13 on the ground and a pair receiving).
Meanwhile, if you look at his partner in the backfield, most onlookers felt that Leon Washington was criminally underused by the former head coach, Eric Mangini. 
Ryan has brought a new attitude to Gang Green

Ryan has brought a new attitude to Gang Green

When new Head Coach Rex Ryan came on board he promised to utilize the offensive line to run block, as it was designed to do. He promised more Leon Washington (so much so that Peter King predicted 300 touches) and drafted a rookie quarterback who would need an effective ground game to keep him from having to win with his arm. 

In fact, since Ryan came from the Baltimore Ravens – who had just shepherded their own rookie, quarterback Joe Flacco – confidence was high that this could be a very good season for he Jets rushing attack.
After three weeks, what do we have? The Jets are tied for the tenth ranked rushing offense, though that’s largely skewed by game one. Leon Washington has barely topped 40 carries in three games and only has seven receptions. Thomas Jones has had only seven more carries than Washington and only 17 more yards.
Both Jets fans and fantasy owners are left wondering what is happening and how much longer it will last.
For today’s Trendspotting, let’s take a stab at answering these questions.
First let’s look at some hard facts.
As ineffective as the Jets run game has seemed, they’ve actually run a ton. They’ve run the ball 104 times versus the 83 times they have passed, a percentage of 56% of the time. A bit more balanced than we anticipated but still not a minuscule amount.
In fact, their 104 attempts put them second behind fellow New York team, the Giants. While neither team is totalling extreme numbers, the Jets rank 11th in total ground yards (The GMen are 8th).
Where the Jets are struggling is in yards per carry. They are at 3.8 ypc, ranking 22nd in the league. While you might throw the 3.8 out with a mere ‘it’s too early to count it yet’, with the exception of the Giants all the other teams with over 100+ carries are significantly better per carry.
















Now of course, it’s just three weeks and there are teams who came close to 100 carries like the Detroit Lions (90) with similar YPC (in Detroit’s case, 3.5).
Putting aside the small sample size, that’s a significant drop off from the 4.7 that three other 100+ carry teams have the the Jets’ 3.8.
So while they are running the ball often, they aren’t doing it effectively.
Individually, the yards per carry actually look fine for both backs. Thomas Jones has a 3.77 while Leon Washington has a 4.00 yards per carry.
Respectable, right?
Well here’s a closer look which tells you things may not be what the appear.
Watching Thomas Jones the first two weeks didn’t excite me much. Frankly, he looked slow and plodding. He didn’t seem to hit the holes when they were there. 
Even in Week 1, when he totalled 107 yards and two touchdowns (his only two thus far this season) Jones looked bad for much of the game. He broke two big runs – one 39 yard touchdown road and a second 39 yard run where he cut back across the defense, who had over-pursued too far to one side of the field.
I hate to play ‘taking away run X’ but in order to get a sense of what Jones is doing, you really have to. Because looking at the game as a whole, Jones didn’t look good at all and his yards per carry was awful for most of the game. Same with Week 2. 
The majority of runs for Jones are for one or two yards. Occasionally he gets an eight or ten yard run – even more rarely he gets a big gain like the 39 yard runs from Week 1. 
Raye's departure could be hurting Jones

Raye's departure could be hurting Jones

For sure, part of this is due to the departure of running back coach Jimmy Raye, who left to be the Offensive Coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. Under Raye, Jones had two of his most productive years ever. When a coach like that leaves, it certainly can have an affect on a player.

Of course, another part of this is could be Jones.
I’ll give this to Jones – he is not mailing it in. He may look a little slower than in the past, but he’s fighting hard.
Jones’ biggest issue might be – and here’s a shock – the offensive line.
As I said earlier, watching him on television for two weeks left me less than enthused. I got even more concerned when I saw Jones in person against the Titans in Week 3 but it wasn’t just because he looked a little slow.
Granted the Titans are a great team against the run even at 0-3. Record aside, they are ranked second in the NFL against the rush and they found ways to meet Jones at the line all day. The Jets line really struggled with the inside stunts the Tennessee unit threw at them. 
What makes it more difficult for Jones is that he can’t really attack the edge. He doesn’t have that speed and ability to turn that outside corner and when the Jets try that with him, he gets caught. So the Jets have to keep him pounding the middle even when he’s ramming into a wall of defenders.
The offensive line play hasn't been as good as expected

The offensive line play hasn't been as good as expected

During the Titans game the Jets’ offensive line didn’t get enough initial push – something that was the case against the Patriots in Week 2 as well. Sure, Jones has lost a step and yeah maybe he’s not all that happy with his contract but those are not affecting his overall work. On Sunday he recovered a fumble, sold the heck out of a play-fake and did some great pass-blocking.
Jones is giving effort, he’s just not getting enough help from his line. While I wasn’t in love with his play in Week 1, I’m more concerned with the line’s play in Weeks 2 & 3.
I think Jones can still have a very nice season and as Coach Rex Ryan has publicly stated he isn’t planning on putting Shonn Greene in more, he will continue to have opportunity. He’ll turn it around, and we’ll get to that in a minute. First, we have to look over the other half of the rushing attack.
Big numbers have eluded Washington so far this year

Big numbers have eluded Washington so far this year

Leon Washington
Ryan promised to use more of Washington in 2009. After an almost criminal under-utilization of Washington last year, fans and owners alike were ecstatic.
Washington is certainly getting more snaps, averaging 13.67 a game. He can run between the tackles, though he runs into the same problem Jones does in terms of no push from the offensive line.
What I am not seeing enough of, certainly considering what we expected, is a ton of pass targets.
In the first game, Washington had six targets, four of which he hauled in for a total of 24 yards. But the last two games he’s seen just five. He’s caught three of them and totaled in two games what he got in Week 1 – 24 yards.
Washington is very dangerous out in space and when catching a screen pass yet he hasn’t been used in that manner very often the last few games. Part of that is that teams now what he can do and guard against it. Yet it also comes down to play-calling.
Why aren’t Ryan and Offensive Coordinator utilizing him in the pass game more? Perhaps it has just been that in game planning for the last two match-ups, they were concerned both defenses might be waiting for it. That’s the problem early in the season – not a ton of empirical evidence to look over.
It could be Washington isn’t in as often on third downs as Jones is, as Jones has been a very good pass-blocker and may have an easier time doing that due to his heavier weight.
While Washington has been getting half the carries in the run game and plenty of touches overall, he may not be getting the right touches currently. Just having him run between the tackles – something I saw a bunch on Sunday against the Titans – seems to be a waste of his abilities.
Sanchez has won Rookie of the Week 3 Weeks in a Row - but that's not helping the run game

Sanchez has won Rookie of the Week 3 Weeks in a Row - but that's not helping the run game

Mark Sanchez
Wait a minute. Why is the rookie Quarterback in this edition of Trendspotting? We’re talking RUNNING BACKS.
Well, next to the oline, nobody on the field will impact the not-so-dynamic-duo as much as the ‘Sanchize’.
Sanchez – while now a three time Offensive Rookie of the Week and according to the media the ‘front-runner’ after three whole weeks for Rookie of the Year – isn’t perfect.
Listen, he’s cool in the pocket, brave to the point of insanity (ever hear several thousand Jets fans shriek ‘SLIDE MARK SLIDE’? I have.) and has been playing pretty contained football so far during this young season.
Yet he has forced throws, been baited into bad decisions and at times looked like what he is – a rookie quarterback. The thought prior to the season is that the team would protect him with a solid run game and that might up Jones and Washington’s numbers as it would increase their carries.
Of course, there was some discussion about how a rookie quarterback makes it hard on the run game. Defenses decide most of the time to make the rookie beat them and stack or attack the run. They don’t give up on the pass defense entirely, but a rookie quarterback has to earn their respect.
This seemed to get lost in some of the conversation about the Jets rushing attack just before the season.
As much as opposing teams respect what Sanchez brings to the table and as much as he has shown flashes of the ability to burn them long, he doesn’t do it consistently enough for them to lay off the run. 
OC Schottenheimer keeps things simple for rookie QB Sanchez

OC Schottenheimer keeps things simple for rookie QB Sanchez

Further, Schottenheimer and Ryan are keeping things pretty simple for the rookie. They don’t want to risk overwhelming him with too many schemes and choices. Keeping things a little plain allows the defenses playing against the Jets to focus on fewer potential looks and scenarios.

Given the large amount of carries, we know the team is protecting Sanchez with the run. But the vanilla plays they often run (with the exception of the occasional WildCat or razzle dazzle) allow the defense to concentrate on stopping that run.
Sanchez needs to get better and make a few more plays downfield if the Jets are to pull the dogs off Jones and Washington at the line. It wouldn’t hurt to see a few more screens to Washington either.
What To Do?
Both of these players are worth hanging on to. When it comes to Thomas Jones, if you have him and are not hemorrhaging points at the RB2 or Flex spot, hold him.
As for Washington, like Jones, he isn’t playing as well as we’d hoped. You probably drafted him much later than Jones, so he may not be hurting you as much. I believe he will continue to get his half of the carries and I believe that as Mark Sanchez continues to improve he will be able to move defenses off the line of scrimmage more.
Finally, you have to like the Jets schedule as it stands.
There are some tough teams, especially at first glance.
Looking over the whole of it though, the Jets have some match-ups which should make their backs salivate. Carolina (29th vs run), Oakland (28th), Tampa Bay (31), Atlanta (24th) and perennial good RB match-up Indianapolis (21st) all should be good days for the Jets tandem. Some of them will improve as the season goes and some of their stats are skewed due to small sample size (three weeks folks). 
Still they mark some good potential games for the Jets down the road.
Also, some of the tough match-ups aren’t necessarily all they appear. 
Sure, Miami (3rd vs the run), Jacksonville (14th) and Cincinnati (11th) seem tough against the run – until you look at their pass defense. Miami (26th), Jacksonville (32nd) and Cincinnati (19th) all struggle against the pass. So that’s what teams do – they pass against these shaky secondaries.
It doesn’t mean they aren’t decent run defenses or won’t improve. It does mean that a bad pass defense may be inflating what appears to be a good run defensive ranking. 
Many of the best match-ups come late in the Fantasy Season – in fact, Indianapolis is there for many owners Championship Week in Week 16. Carolina, Tampa Bay and Atlanta are all late season match-ups as well.
In both cases, these are players worth hanging on to. As I believe they will trend upwards over the next month or so, I would also recommend seeing if you can buy low on them. Point out the offensive line woes and the low total yards past week 1.
Looking forward I think this is a rushing attack that will improve as the season gets older.


]]> 0
Twitter Roundtable Vol. 4 The QBs Strike Back Wed, 12 Aug 2009 13:58:46 +0000 admin Welcome to another edition of the Twitter Roundtable. As always, our group of Fantasy Experts discuss a topic of fantasy relevance to your league and season.
Today, we talk about Quarterbacks.
While many an owner is thinking about grabbing QB early, still others wait for their signal-caller. Which guy currently projected outside these twelve Quarterbacks has the best shot at making the top 8? Why?

Brady, Tom – NE
Brees, Drew – NO
Manning, Peyton – IND

McNabb, Donovan – PHI
Warner, Kurt – ARI
Rivers, Philip – SD
Rodgers, Aaron – GB
Palmer, Carson – CIN
Schaub, Matt – HOU
Romo, Tony – DAL
Cutler, Jay – CHI
Garrard, David – JAX
Orton, Kyle – DEN
Jared Feree – What’s Your Fantasy Podcast
Based on THAT list, two guys step out to me. 

1) Matt Hasselbeck – Hasselbeck, the last time he was healthy, finished top ten and he is gaining a great receiver in Houshmandzadeh.  He does still play in one of the weaker conferences in the NFC West.  I also think Carlson is a nice weapon and Deion Branch, when healthy, is a nice target as well.  I wouldn’t want to place any bets on Hassebeck finishing top 10, but wouldn’t be surprised if he wound up there. 

2) Matt Ryan – I like him to be close to top 10 and would prefer him over a guy like Garrard.  Roddy White is solid, Turner is solid, and the addition of Tony Gonzalez could add a few redzone passing TD’s.  While his overall numbers weren’t that impressive last season, he did finish top 15 as a rookie.

Brett Favre for obvious reasons, but I think he will move very close to the top 12 once he is in camp. 


Matt Schauf –
From what I’ve seen, Matt Ryan is far more often considered among the top 12 than Orton or Garrard. I agree that Hasselbeck doesn’t have a long trip to get back into the top 12, although I also don’t trust him to make it through a full schedule. I really like Trent Edwards, though his success (or failure) will depend on how quickly a whole new line can jell. I’m not betting on him as a starter right away, but I’ll absolutely take a shot on him as a backup/spot starter with upside. Matt Cassel got sacked more than any other passer in the league last year and he still managed to have a pretty nice season.

Terrell Owens was awesome in his first seasons with Philly and Dallas (despite some new kid taking over at QB during that year with the Cowboys), and he seems to be saying and doing all the right things again in Buffalo.

Another really late sleeper is Jason Campbell, who has a more experienced line and is, by all accounts, determined to finally put it all together this year. He’s done a pretty good job avoiding interceptions as a starter overall, so the big question will be whether he has enough at receiver.

Ginny Loveless –
With Falcon’s bruuuuutal schedule, there’s no way I’d put Matt Ryan on the list.

HHmmmm…. Matt Hasselbeck and Trent Edwards

MH: In the past, Hasselbeck has been a proven fantasy starter. So, knowing he can be in that role eases the assumption that he can do it again.  Last year was extremely subpar for him due not only to the injuries to his receivers, but his own injury which caused him to miss half the season. Hasselbeck has said himself that he is now completely recovered from his back woes and even Coach More is happy with his progress, so that’s always good to hear. 

Doing some quick math here, had he played all 16 games –all things being equal – he would have ended the season with about 2850 yards and 11 touchdowns.   While that’s pretty middle-of-the-pack stats, he should thrive this year as he gets to air it out to TJ Houshmandzadeh and John Carlson. Not to mention that if Nate Burleson and Deion Branch can stay healthy, things will be even easier for the 10-year vet.

TE: From what I’ve seen and read, Trent Edwards is a great decision maker who understands the offense and we should see an overall improvement of him at this position as he enters his third year.  But, it’s the addition of Terrell Owens to his receiving crew that makes me include him here. Lee Evans is great to have on the other side of the field, too. If Marshawn Lynch and the Bills’ running game keep steady, that should make things easier for him as well.

Between Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson…..whoever wins that job I would add to the list… There’s talent in Cleveland with Braylon Edwards and Brian Robiskie.  Quinn is one more year into being more mature and I think he can really start something good this year with Edwards. Braylon’s flub last year was a fluke and he will rebound. :::crossfingers:::

Parag Gheewala – Mockumentary
I like the Matt Hasslebeck pick, but I’ll stick my neck out and go with Ben Roethlisberger.  I have a feeling that Ben will have solid but unspectacular season.  His owners will be constantly looking for an upgrade because he’ll never quite be a difference maker each week.  Not many will try to trade for him because he won’t seem like an upgrade.  But at the end of the season, everyone will be shocked to see that Ben’s made it into the top 8 (barely).  Some of the better QBs will get hurt (Kurt Warner, I’m looking at you) and some will sit because their teams have clinched the playoffs.  The result is that one of the best NFL QBs will put together a top 8 fantasy football season. Since his ADP is outside of the top 12, he sounds like a nice backup QB to grab.
Matt Schauf –
I’m definitely not a Braylon Edwards believer. I think that the numbers he has put up with various quarterbacks over four seasons indicate that he’s much closer to a 70-catch, 7-touchdown type of player at best than the blowed-up 2007 version. If he were a true, sure-fire No. 1 wideout, I have to think he either would have snapped out of the funk at some point last season or found the Giants willing to give up Steve Smith to bring him aboard this winter.
Roethlisberger is another player that I never end up drafting, because he has clearly shown that he can’t be counted on for big numbers. I’d like to think that the apparent emergence of Santonio Holmes will set Ben up to finally reach 20 TD passes for the second time in his career this year, but there was no good reason for him not to do so last year.

The potential for distraction in this new lawsuit that might involve sexual assault doesn’t help things either.

Josh Torrey –
I don’t believe Holmes “playoff” emergence will amount to much this season. He is a good player, but I don’t think he’ll be consistent enough to counter Ben’s lack of consistency.

That said, Trent Edwards & Matt Hasselback are my two nominations. I’ve written an article on Edwards (that received due heat) trying to show that big numbers from him are not that far fetched. The guy didn’t play in two games last year as was crazy efficient in his 2nd Year.  I obviously expect that efficiency to go down as he tosses the ball deep more often but he just got one of the best redzone WRs in the NFL. His TDs should be on the rise.

Ginny Loveless –
Some thoughts on Parag’s Big Ben take:
Parag: I’ll stick my neck out and go with Ben Roethlisberger.
Me: Big Ben has never been a relevant/dependable fantasy option.
Parag: His owners will be constantly looking for an upgrade.

Me:  Agreed.

Parag: He’ll never quite be a difference maker each week.


Parag: Not many will try to trade for him because he won’t seem like an upgrade.

Me: Agreed.

Parag: But at the end of the season, everyone will be shocked to see that Ben’s made it into the top 8. Some of the better QBs will get hurt and some will sit because their teams have clinched the playoffs.

Me: If he gets into the top 8 based on injuries and starters sitting then he has not achieved anything.  It will still be the same subpar fantasy performance we expect from Big Ben, but he is moving up in the ranks out of default.  I’ll pass.

Matt Schauf –
From the looks of things, Holmes’ Super Bowl performance has led to him rededicating this off-season. He’s added some bulk and just generally seems more focused on proving himself every time I see him quoted. I’m not penciling him in as a fantasy No. 1, but I do think it’s possible he finally reaches that level.
Andrew Garda –
Actually Big Ben is reliable from the standpoint of, he doesn’t lose you matchups – though he won’t win you championships.

But I’d be shocked if he hit the top 10.

Echoing thoughts here: I think Hasselbeck and Edwards have shots, though Hass has to stay healthy (and his Oline needs to hang on one more year) and Edwards has to overcome three new starters on the line.

I’m going to throw a different wrinkle in there – Chad Pennington.

Granted this will be a VERY tough climb – the schedule he has is abusive and just looking at the AFC East alone shows teams that managed to get better than they were last year. And last year they didn’t exactly suck.

Still, Pennington had a great season in 2008 and not much changed offensively for the Phins this off-season. Ginn has a year more experience, the team picked up some rookie help, Ronnie Brown looks healthy and ready to go and Penny is coming off a season where he finished top 10 in many leagues.

The Wildcat didn’t hurt Pennington and won’t this year – and Pat White hasn’t done a thing to impact the QB position yet (though White is a guy who always looks worse in practice than in games).

Aside from the tough schedule Pennington needs to: stay healthy (rare), stay accurate (usually a strength) and stay upright (Dolphins were ranked 23rd in sacks allowing only 26). The Dolphins were a top 10 passing offense in 2008 (according to – if that holds it gives Pennington (the main man there) a strong chance to do the same in 2009.

If you grab him as part of a QBBC, you limit risk and still have the upside for a nice season.

Jim Day –
I am going to go outside the box here and say Shaun Hill. Yes I said Shaun Hill, STOP LAUGHING.

I know that Alex Smith was getting talked up out of OTA’s but he will NOT beat out Hill to start. Okay that established, let’s take a closer look at Hill.

In the last 8 games of 2008 (his starts) he finished 8th in QB scoring, beating out Warner, Big Ben, McNabb, Ryan, and most definitely Brett Favre. He has a completion percentage of 64% in his 10 career starts. He averages 250 yds per start and has 18 Tds versus only 9 interceptions over that same period.

Now he has a 2nd year receiver in Josh Morgan who many feel is in a good position to break out. Morgan has good size and speed and should improve on his 2008 numbers.

He also has a great veteran in Isaac Bruce who had 61 receptions for 835 yards and 7 TDs in 2008. Many feel he won’t put up those numbers in 2009, but it is hard to count him out.

Now add in a receiver many felt was the best receiver, if not the best impact player, in this year’s draft, Michael Crabtree. Crabtree had over 3000 yards and 41 TDs in just two years in a high powered Texas Tech offense. He has good size, great hands and very good speed.  He is not your ordinary rookie and should give Hill a very nice red zone option.

Look for Hill to top 3000 yards and be very close to 25 TDs.

Ginny Loveless –
RE: Jim – I am going to go outside the box here and say Shaun Hill. Yes I said Shaun Hill, STOP LAUGHING.

That’s it.  I want out of these Roundtable shenanigans.

Josh Torrey –

Matt Schauf said: From the looks of things, Holmes’ Super Bowl performance has led to him rededicating this off-season. He’s added some bulk and just generally seems more focused on proving himself every time I see him quoted. I’m not penciling him in as a fantasy No. 1, but I do think it’s possible he finally reaches that level.

Me: I know this is a QB thread but I have to respond to this, lol.

Holmes spent a lot of time this last off-season adding strength too. He went through almost all practices in Training Camp with weighted gloves. I really felt it made a difference in terms of him snatching balls from the air. But my point was this, I’m not slighting Holmes. I’m just saying he wouldn’t be good enough to change how Ben plays football. To make Ben consistent, you’re going to need to sit him in the pocket & ask him to not take wild chances….that will lead to losing games. Ben will be erratic, he’ll have horrific fantasy games and you’ll regret drafting him when you’re playing against Brees, Brady or Manning.

All this btw? I’m a huge Steelers fan and own Big Ben as my Dynasty QB in a 16 Team League. So this is no anti-Ben bias.

Steve Wyremski – 
Sign me up for Matt Ryan and Trent Edwards to replace Orton.

Matt Ryan
I realize that he’s got a nasty schedule (or so it seems), but it’s very tough to give that a ton of weight at this point given the parity in the NFL and the fluctuation of top teams year after year.  Tony Gonzalez should help out big time freeing up the receivers and with a year under his belt he should be golden.  Come on…!  I’m a BC fan!

Trent Edwards
This is pretty simple for me taking a look at a simple fact.  Last year’s squad was Lee Evans, Josh Reed and Robert Royal.  Now, we’re looking at TO, Lee Evans and Shawn Nelson.  Talk about night and day.  Edwards is primed for a breakout season and the team should largely benefit from the presence of TO during his honeymoon season.  Besides, TO looks like his finally matured from watching his show on VH1.  Really.   

And that’s it for today’s discussion – thanks to everyone for taking part and for reading.
To find out more about the folks involved, please take a moment to read below:


Matt Schauf  (@mschauf63) You can now find his work as the lead football writer for PFS and or at, 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 and in preview magazines for Sporting News, Rotoworld and Football Diehards.


Joshua Torrey (@jmtorrey) is a contributor to & is a fan of not just football but football strategy. Joshua enjoys breaking down game tape and team schemes to predict long term fantasy success.


Andrew Garda (@ThunderingBlurb) writes for a myriad of sites including, and his own site, He also hosts his own weekly show The Thundering Blurb Football Show every Wednesday (10pm EST) on


Steve Wyremski’s (@retiredrookie) 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.


Jim Day (@Fantasytaz)  has been writing for FF sites since 2000 when he started with 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.


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 with both fantasy player rankings and general fantasy football articles. 


Ginny Loveless (@GBGinny) is a staff writer at Football Diehards and is part of the weekly fantasy football recap crew. This beer-drinking, brat-eating, cheesehead will give you her best tip at being successful in fantasy football: numbers don’t lie. Stick with the facts and you’ll do alright. However . . . a little luck never hurts.
]]> 0
Quarterback Blurb Breakdown: Trent Edwards Sat, 18 Jul 2009 15:22:43 +0000 admin Trent Edwards has new weapons to throw to - but will the offensive line hold up?

Trent Edwards has new weapons to throw to - but will the offensive line hold up?

Trent Edwards finds himself in a classic ‘put up or shut up’ situation this year.

The Bills went out and made some noise by signing Terrell Owens to a single year contract, giving fellow wide receiver Lee Evans someone who will draw coverage off of him and Edwards a second legitimate target.

Of course, the danger with T.O. is well known – calling him ‘QB-Killer’ wouldn’t be out of line. Still, he’s usually good for at least one season of production before an implosion and the Bills were wise in giving him just a year contract.

Plus, if you look at his history quarterbacks tend to do pretty well with him – at least the first year.

So Edwards could be in line for a nice bump in production.

On the downside, Edwards is losing Marshawn Lynch for three games. Fred Jackson looked very good last year and the team brought in Dominic Rhodes, so one hopes the run game won’t stumble too badly to open the season.

Rhodes hasn’t been spectacular the last few seasons and we only have part of a season to go on in terms of gauging Jackson’s production though, so it is a bit of an unknown factor.

More concerning is the offensive line.  There is a lot of disagreement as to how good a Left Tackle Jason Peters was, but the fact is, even a decent LT is at a premium and now Buffalo has three new guys filling in across the line.

It will be a worry up until the point we actually see them play and maybe even beyond. The AFC East will test them early and often and the defenses there will not be forgiving if the line shows itself to be weak.

Edwards himself could use the time a good offensive line would grant him. The longer he has, the better the chance he won’t check-down early and might throw the ball further down-field. Some of that is play-calling, but some of that is Edwards and if he’s going to take advantage of his new toys, he has to take a few more chances.

You know darn well T.O. will voice his displeasure if Edwards doesn’t throw to him, and if things start slow that’s going to be a concern.

So far in his career, Edwards hasn’t been a great Fantasy quarterback. He doesn’t throw for a ton of touchdowns (21 in 24 games, three of which were rushing scores) but let’s be honest here – Lee Evans can only do so much with every defensive back hanging onto his shoelaces while James Hardy, Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish flounder around the field. T.O. can make a huge difference.

I want to see what happens in Training Camp. How will he click with his new weapon? Can the offensive line gel? Will the run game miss any beat?

If some of these questions are answered in Training Camp, Edwards could go from a decent backup to something much more.

]]> 0
Quarterback Blurb Breakdown: Kyle Orton Sat, 18 Jul 2009 15:14:11 +0000 admin Can Kyle Orton make Denver fans forget Jay Cutler?

Can Kyle Orton make Denver fans forget Jay Cutler?

At first blush, you have to wonder what Denver was thinking here.

First the Broncos mishandle trying to trade for Matt Cassel, and then they completely screw up calming Cutler down.

Then they trade a franchise quarterback for a perennial backup.

Or did they?

Sure, Kyle Orton didn’t wow us back in 2005 when he stepped in to cover yet another glorious Rex Grossman setback and played well enough to not lose.

And sure, while he looked incredibly good in the first portion of the 2008 season, he hurt his ankle and then completely fell apart.

But a bad ankle can hurt any quarterback and shouldn’t diminish what he did when healthy.

So the question is: Which Orton is the one coming to Denver?

Certainly you have to credit Orton for stepping in during the 2005 season and holding the fort. It’s a lot to ask of any rookie, especially a guy like Orton who was a fourth round draft pick – expected to have to no more than back up duties to incumbent Rex Grossman in his first year.

He wasn’t perfect, throwing just 9 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. But he was serviceable.

It’s odd, but the perception is often that Orton is very accurate, and that’s not necessarily a fact. On the surface, his TD/INT ratio is almost 50/50 (30/27 actually). Mind you, it’s not much data to go on – he’s only got 33 games to go on.

But he’s not a laser-accurate passer by any means.

The other assumption is that Orton lacks the arm strength to take advantage of his wide receiver corps. But in the same breath, many say that Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal automatically spell big numbers for Orton.

Once again, we don’t have a good measure of what Orton can do based on just two seasons, one of which was filled with a lingering injury.

Certainly Marshall, Royal and – to a lesser but no less important extent – Brandon Stokley and Tony Scheffler, all contributed to Jay Cutler’s success.

But I would make the argument that he made them as much as they made him, if not more.

The fact is, I think Orton will benefit from throwing to the group of targets he has in Denver. He’ll also benefit from having to throw more than in Chicago.

Denver hasn’t yet made enough strides for the defense to avoid struggling again this year and it’s possible the team will find themselves behind often enough to where Orton may have to come from behind.

The question is whether Orton has what it takes to come from behind and succeed. According to stats on, trailing the opposition last season, Orton threw for 1,002 yards but had a TD/INT ratio of 6 TDs to 7 INTs.

Again, some of that surely comes down to his wide receivers. Still, some of that is Orton and he’ll need to be able to be more accurate in Denver.

In the end, I’m not totally sure what we can expect from Orton and that’s a great deal of the problem. He’s been hot and cold, produced well and not at all, had few decent wide receivers, and was in an offense which favored the run because they didn’t trust their quarterbacks.

He’s done a bunch of different things in different situations but what he hasn’t been is around long.

We have very little to go on which is dependable.

In this Denver offense, it’s tempting to just plug Orton in and assume the same numbers JC had will emerge. By the same notion – given the not-always-impressive numbers previously put up – it’s easy to dismiss him.

The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. But the doubts I have place him a little further back right now in my rankings.

I can’t get too hot and bothered about Orton, even if he played well half of one season. He’s got the job, so no Training Camp battle. But until camp starts, we won’t see how he clicks with his receivers – the best of which might not even be there.

This gets worse not better if Marshall gets traded or holds out (right now, Marshall says he’ll be in camp and the Broncos say they will not trade him).  Again, nothing I can judge now.

So while I reserve the right to move him up later, in mid July, Orton is where he deserves to be on the list.

]]> 0
Quarterback Blurb Breakdown: Kurt Warner/Matt Leinart Thu, 16 Jul 2009 11:42:08 +0000 admin Can Warner stay healthy and can Leinart succeed if he cant?

Can Warner stay healthy and can Leinart succeed if he can't?

It’s easy to just focus on Warner given the last few years.

While Matt Leinart has floundered with internet drinking photos, poor displays of prowess in his limited game action and perceived general lack of discipline, Kurt Warner keeps putting up great numbers.

At least that’s what it all looks like at first blush.

Warner certainly deserves the accolades for his 2008 season. 

His 4,582 yards were his second highest total ever (second to his 4,830 in 2001) and his 30 touchdowns marked his third highest total. He also finished the season, something he hasn’t done as a starter in – well, let’s just say ‘in some time’.

That’s you’re first red flag though. Call it luck, point to vastly improved offensive line play, say he got cybernetic implants – whatever the reason, he made it through the whole season without missing a game.

Never forget though, in his 11 year old career, he has played a whole season as a starter just three times.

Sure, discount 1998 when he wasn’t a starter or 2004 when Eli Manning stole his job. But historically, the man cannot stay healthy and at 38, isn’t getting more durable with age.

There is a fair chance he will get banged up.

Then why, you may ask, do I have him as a top quarterback?

Well, simply put he’s the starter on a dynamic pass-driven team with two of the best wide receivers in the game at his command. And no, I don’t expect Boldin to be traded at this point. Even if he was, Steve Breaston could step in very ably as well.

Even when he doesn’t play every game ­‑ like in 2007‑ he still put good enough numbers up to be a top 10 quarterback. The weapons at his disposal are just too good and if the blocking keeps up the sky could be the limit.

Which brings us to Matt Leinart who has to make some sort of showing in this, his fifth year  in the league.

He hasn’t done a whole heck of a lot thus far.

Leinart has athletic ability and I believe he has the general skill-set to succeed in the NFL, though after several years of a whole lot of nothing, I doubt he’ll ever reach an elite level.

As much as anything else, his head has gotten in his way. He was reportedly focused more during last season as well as this off-season but frankly I’ll believe it pays off when I see it pay off.

Still, since Warner has had issues with injuries in the past and the offensive weapons are outstanding, you have to consider Leinart. Given the value he could have, it’s worth thinking about snagging him as a security blanket for Warner later in your draft. 

However until you see Leinart have even a moderate version, don’t grab him early expecting him to easily replicate Warner’s numbers if the old man can’t finish.

]]> 0
Running Back Blurb Breakdown: Derrick Ward Mon, 06 Jul 2009 02:05:05 +0000 admin Ward comes into a muddy Tamp Bay offense.

We’re not sure how much work he will share with Ernest Graham. We’re not sure who the quarterback will be and aside from Antonio Bryant, we’re not sure who will be catching the ball.

We are sure that Kellen Winslow will help keep the secondary honest and that Ward is going to be a big part of this run game.

The problem is, even though we are sure about all of the above things, we’re not totally sure what any of it means. Or that it will last past August.

Instead we can look back at what he did for the Giants over the past few years. While with New York – and as part of a trio of running backs – Ward cracked 1,000 yards and caught 41 passes for 384 yards. He played behind a better offensive line, with a much surer hand at quarterback even if the wide receiver group was almost as shaky depth-wise as Tampa’s.

Graham couldn’t secure the job last season, being pushed aside at times for Warrick Dunn and missing six games.  He can catch the ball as well as Ward, but unlike Ward, hasn’t hit 1,000 yard mark yet.

It’s very likely Ward will end up getting more carries and doing more with them at that. His 5.6 yards per carry is very encouraging. And while the confusion at quarterback will hurt a little, it means that there is a good chance that the Bucs will need to lean on a run game pretty heavily.

He was also brought in by new Head Coach Raheem Morris who certainly strikes me as the type of guy to fall in love with his own players and give them every chance to succeed. Of course that leads you to wonder what might happen to the offense if/when rookie quarterback Josh Freeman gets in there.

Also with Kellen Winslow there, there may be a ton of redzone looks which go elsewhere, assuming K2 comes to play and prove Cleveland foolish for letting him go.

But Ward has enough potential to make him a safe RB3, with some upside for more. If the team were more stable and we knew how the carries were going to be split, he could even creep up a little more.

This is a player who needs to be watched very carefully during camp and could emerge as a real value in your fantasy drafts.

]]> 0
Running Back Blurb Breakdown: Larry Johnson Sat, 04 Jul 2009 03:57:48 +0000 admin Once upon a time, Larry Johnson was Fantasy relevant.

He still is – although perhaps as a cautionary tale of too much complaining, not enough production.

It’s too bad because we’ve seen some great production from him even in the last two, stunted years.

Maybe it was the immense number of carries in 2005 & 2006 (336 & 416 respectively).

Maybe it was the ineffectual regimes in Kansas City. Maybe it was the weight of his not-insubstantial ego.

Whatever the cause, he has been in trouble or hurt often after the last few years.

It didn’t help his numbers last year that he caught just 12 balls after several seasons of 30+ catches. It looks unlikely that the Chiefs will utilize him to catch out of the backfield much this season, although with All-World Tight End Tony Gonzalez has gone of to Atlanta.

So, it’s possible LJ could get a few more catches since Brad Cottam is rumored to be staying in to block a lot.

We’ve seen too much of a dip to think Johnson is ready to bounce back anytime soon. Especially with a shaky offensive line, an unproven quarterback (albeit coming of a tremendous year) throwing to a small number of offensive weapons and probably  less than desired as the defense struggles to stop opposing drives and get the offense reps.

Johnson still has some upside but is nowhere near the back who once occupied a lounging spot in the preseason top ten rankings.

The best you can do is draft him for depth and hope he can put in a performance for a few games like he did week 3 vs Atlanta (121yds, 1TD), week 4 vs Denver (198yds, 2TDs) or week 16 vs Miami (108yds, 1TD).

But good luck figuring out when to start him. Thanks, but I think I’ll pass, regardless of perceived value – even in the fifth or sixth rounds.

]]> 0
Running Back Blurb Breakdown: Steve Slaton Thu, 02 Jul 2009 10:46:00 +0000 admin

Slaton is another back who people are either very high on or very wary of.

Questions about him are many: Is he too small to carry the load (ala Maurice Jones-Drew)? Will he lose carries to a second back (ala Joseph Addai)? Will he have issues if (maybe when) quarterback Matt Schaub or wide receiver Andre Johnson go down?

Let’s take a look at these very valid concerns and see if they hold up and if so (or if not), what that truly means.

First of all, size. While I have been researching an article on Jones-Drew, I’ve taken a hard look at the sizes and weights of many NFL running backs. Slaton is a tad on the short side, although at 5′-9 I still think that’s not a huge concern.

What might be a concern is his weight. Slaton rolls in as a trim (maybe slight is a better term) 203 pounds. While he isn’t Darren Sproles (5-6, 181lbs!) the thin frame is worrisome.

Even Slaton knew this – that’s why he added about nine pounds of muscle to help with the pounding. That pulls him closer to some of the slightly taller backs (in the 5-10 to 5-11 range) and help him with his short yardage work.

Now, as we’re concerned with size, it would stand to reason the Texans would be as well. But they didn’t bring in a power back to cut into Slaton’s carries at all. In fact, the backs behind him consist of a fragile runner, an underperforming back who runs like Slaton, a pair of rookies and a perennial camp body.

Not really a group striking fear into Slaton’s heart. Of them, most likely to succeed in any way is rookie Arian Foster, who impressed in OTAs and at 6-1, 225 pounds can fulfill the power back role. This might harm Slaton’s overall touchdown total as an awful lot of his TDs were short yardage – four were a yard or less and a fifth was just two yards.

Two thoughts – one, Slaton sure seemed to be ok going short yardage and not only was he effective on the goal line, but he played well getting first downs. Could it be that Houston didn’t acquire a full-on short yardage back because they believe Slaton can do it, with Brown (or now Foster) spelling him?

Alternatively, you have to be concerned that if he does loose his goal-line attempts, his touchdown totals are decimated.

Slaton did have about seven 40+ runs, though, including one over 71 yards which resulted in a touchdown. He can break away from tacklers and if the offense is more consistent, that could offset any loss in the short yardage game.

Still, most of his ten touchdowns were short yardage. So it definitely could be a problem.

Finally, there is the concern that if Johnson or Schaub goes down with an injury, Slaton could face too many defenses selling out to stop him.

Well, with Schaub on the bench injured and Sage Rosenfels striking fear into the hearts of nobody, Slaton performed pretty well for the most part last season.

While the depth behind Schaub is even more shaky this year (Dan Orlovsky and Rex Grossman – WOO HOO!), I still expect Slaton to play as well as he did last year and with another year under his belt, have the potential to be even better.

Overall, Slaton ran the ball well throughout the 2008 season. He had some good games against good run defenses (Minnesota), some ok run defenses (Jacksonville) and some bad run defenses (Detroit, Green Bay & Indianapolis).

He also had some disappointing games against poor run defenses (Cleveland) and some great run defenses (Pittsburgh, Miami, Baltimore). That’s to be expected from a rookie. This year he needs a little more consistency before he is considered a true stud.

Overall, I like Slaton quite a bit this year.

I think he will not lose much in the way of carries or targets and has already said he feels like he knows what his coaches want and how to achieve it. I think he has no more or less questions than any back in front or behind him, has no real challengers for carries and I believe the offensive line has continued to improve over time.

His questions are very real, however, and must be considered when drafting him.

If Slaton stays healthy and the offense plays well, he has the opportunity to not only crack the top ten again, but potentially the top five as well.

The risk is; with just one season to look over we don’t know if last year was the rule – or the exception.

And that risk will keep him from the top of a lot of people’s Fantasy Draft boards.

]]> 0
Running Back Blurb Breakdown: DeAngelo Williams Sat, 27 Jun 2009 02:08:00 +0000 admin

DeAngelo Williams

How can I NOT have him earlier will be the cry – and it doesn’t matter where he ranks. If it isn’t top 3, it won’t matter. Some folks will be bent out of shape.

Those cries have a case – Williams finally exploded last season and Carolina Head Coach John Fox loves his veterans – usually to the point of benching a more talented rookie.

He might not even have to even make that choice this year as Williams seems to be poised for potentially another great season while second year RB Jonathan Stewart hasn’t stepped up yet to become lead back. And wow is that offensive line adept at opening holes for Panther backs to run through.

Yet even though the offense runs the ball a lot (504 attempts last season) will they duplicate the amount of carries from 2008 in 2009?

Stewart pitched in with 10 touchdowns and even while battling an early injury he played well last season. Rookie Mike Goodson might see some work too. As much as they do run there still should be plenty to go around but it also means they will need to spell Williams. How much? And if they don’t will he burn out after two heavy carry seasons?

Finally, we have to wonder: was what we saw last year the reality – or a one shot deal? Will he be able to repeat his 2008 performance? We’ve had one year wonders before – and many teams who grabbed them too early in the first regretted it later in the season.

I like Williams, don’t get me wrong. But I’m not sure I like him enough to take him with a top five pick like many are suggesting.

]]> 0